This article by Jill Konrath first appeared in her new book, SNAP Selling, and more recently in her Selling to Big Companies e-newsletter. We liked it so much that we wanted to share it with you.
Crazy-busy prospects can't handle complexity. They hate it when things are difficult to decode, decide or decifer. It grinds them to a screeching halt - which is the normal human reaction to being overwhelmed and stressed out.
Because of the chaotic business environments we work in, simplicity has recently emerged as a key factor in sales success.
As a seller, your job is to make things easier and minimize the effort for your frazzled prospects. This is especially true when you're dealing with people who seldom make decisions like the one you're proposing.
Here are some strategies you can use to make things easier for your frazzled prospects.
Augment, Don't Replace
Your prospects already use something or someone to address their needs. You can make it a whole lot easier for them to get buy-in for your product or service by positioning it as an "add on" to an existing program, process, or technology.
For example, when I talk to VPs of Sales, I always stress that my workshops on selling to crazy-busy buyers or cracking into new accounts compliment their existing sales training initiatives. I even assure them that I'll tie my strategies in with their current methodology.
By coexisting with the status quo, you can get your foot in the door without encountering a major battle. Once you're in, you can work to expand your relationship and win additional business.
Sometimes your "competitors" are internal staff whose number one concern is job loss. I knew this was going to be a major obstacle recently when I proposed a new idea to a prospect. So I dealt with it head on.
First I showed them how we could bring much-needed services to an underserved customer demographic. They loved it. Then, I talked about leveraging outside resources to "jump-start" the new program. And, I clearly stated that the ultimate goal was to turn it over to their IT as soon as possible.
Not only did I avoid an insurrection, but I quickly got their support because it provided them with more job security. Augmentation is good. It simplifies and speeds up the decision process.
Think and Act Small
If your prospects like what you've proposed, they'll want to get it approved as soon as possible. However, big ideas with big budgets are riskier and require more buy-in.
As a result, they're harder to get through the system. When you start losing momentum, your whole proposal is at risk.
So even if you have a big idea, be realistic with your prospects. Talk about starting small. Show them how you can get started, demonstrate your success, and build from there. For example, you could:
- Propose an initial assessment to understand the scope of the problem.
- Tackle a small problem where you could demonstrate immediate short-term results.
- Focus on bringing in just one of your products, services, or solutions.
- Suggest a change in only one of the departments or a single facility.
IT seller P. V. Bhaskar frequently proposes pilot projects to his clients. With a 90 percent conversion rate, they've become his secret weapon to simplify the decision-making process.
Prior to getting started, he allows the CIO and CFO to set the success parameters. As he says, "When a pilot exceeds the incumbent's performance, all I need to do is demonstrate that the success can be scaled to an actual project as well."
Going for the whole shebang at once makes things more difficult. And when you're working with frazzled customers, that's a setup for having your opportunity get derailed, delayed or dismissed forever.
But once you get your foot in the door, the hardest part is over. If you do a good job on your initial piece of business, it will be logical for your prospect to move to the next stage with your company. Your next proposal simply augments what they're already doing.
Root Out All Complexity
In many cases, your prospects don't know what to look for or how to decide. If things get complicated, they'll quit and you'll be gonzo.
That's why it's imperative for you and your company to ask these questions all the time:
- At which point do our prospects tip into overwhelm?
- What are the complexities that grind decisions to a halt?
- How can we reduce the ease and effort needed to make a decision?
- In what ways can we minimize decision-making risk?
Discuss these questions with your colleagues. Observe what happens in conversations with your prospects. Talk to your existing customers to get their feedback.
Then eliminate as much complexity as is humanly possible.
If you don't, it can easily become a major showstopper - which is not a desirable outcome. When you embrace the first SNAP Rule: Keep it Simple, you'll win more business with a whole lot less effort.
*Photo credit: (c) All rights reserved sehgal asad
About the author: Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into new accounts, speed up sales cycles and win big contracts. She's a frequent speaker at sales conferences.
For more fresh sales strategies that work with crazy-busy prospects AND to get four free sales-accelerating tools, visit www.snapselling.com.