You and your buyer will experience the sales conversation differently. The more you know about their experience, the more you can improve it—and the better your own experience will be.
Experience and Your Goals
You are goal-oriented and pursuing an outcome, while your client is exploring possibilities. Your sales experience pursues those outcomes in every conversation, but your contacts rarely know or understand which outcomes you need to be successful in the sales conversation.
Instead, your clients experience the early part of the sales conversation as a chance to explore possibilities, while also assessing who they might want to engage with in future conversations. The more you make sure your client achieves their outcome, the more likely you are to achieve your own sales outcomes.
Velocity and Efficiency
You are trying to move forward in the sales conversation. There is so much concern about velocity and efficiency in sales that we have forgotten that effectiveness is the real goal. You want to pull results forward in time, and that means moving the conversation forward effectively.
Your prospective client has a different goal: learning and understanding why they are experiencing seemingly intractable challenges and problems, and what it might take to improve their business. When you find a client who prioritizes efficiency in their buying, you typically receive an RFP.
The speed at which you might create and win a new opportunity is the direct result of how well you serve your client during their experience of considering and making change. Your drive for speed can easily cause you to leave your client behind you in the sales conversation, but you can never go faster than your client and still win their business. Fast is slow. Slow is fast.
Adopting Your Solution
You are certain your dream client is going to experience massive improvement by adopting your solution, with results that are even better than they expect. Thus, one big part of your job is convincing your client to choose your solution.
Your clients, however, are still trying to decide if it is worth it to change at all, or whether they are better off doing things the way they have always done them. Before they commit to a solution, they need to commit to change. Even though your solution is a wonder to behold, it isn’t often enough to cause a client to commit to change.
To get to your solution, you need to help your client understand why they need to change, demonstrate the implications and negative consequences of doing nothing, and provide them with a vision of the better future that is available to them. Oh, and you also might need to provide them with greater certainty.
Stringing Commitments Together
While you are trying to link together the conversations and commitments that make up the sales conversation, the decision-makers and decision-shapers you are working with are trying to navigate their own organization. You know what commitments your clients need to make to successfully solve their problem and to get their team on board for the transformation available to them. You can pursue these conversations to get to a deal, or you can pursue them to help your client get a better result.
Because your stakeholders don’t always know what they need to do or in what order, they struggle with navigating their own organizations. While you are constantly asking them to commit to more conversations, they’ll struggle to agree if they don’t understand the value of those conversations.
The more you guide your client through the sales conversation, clearly explaining what they need to do, when they need to do it, and who they need to include, the easier it will be for both you and your client to work through the necessary discussions and decisions.
What You Worry About
Your main concern is whether or not your client will select you and your solution, while their concerns revolve around making the right decision, producing better results, and how they will be perceived by their company if they succeed or fail. Your contacts are worried about whether or not they should make a decision to change, the timing of that decision, whether or not they have the resources, who is going to complain about or sabotage the initiative, and what will happen to them should you fail them.
You might be worried about whether your client really prefers you or whether they have been bamboozled by your low-price competitor, the one who tells a great story about being just like you but cheaper. You might also worry about how your deal might be derailed by a Black Swan, those sales-crushing events that are unlikely in reality but seem inevitable in hindsight.
Like many posts here, the idea here is that you need to create value for your dream client throughout the sales conversation, by helping them experience what they need. It should not be surprising to you that your strong other-orientation is the key to generating the outcomes you need. There is no path to a deal that doesn’t depend on how well you serve your prospective clients through the sales conversation.
As you help your client work through the conversations and commitments that they need to improve their results, worry less about your own experience and more about theirs. Even though we don’t spend enough time or spill enough ink on the idea of “creating a preference,” that is very literally what you are trying to do by creating value and differentiating yourself from your competition.
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