In every sale – no matter the product, service, market, or vertical – the customer needs to answer three important questions. Why do anything? Why you? Why now? Understanding your customer’s “Three Whys” will help you design a sales process that is in perfect alignment with the way your customer wants to buy.
Why do anything? Confirming the Business Necessity
The first question a customer needs to answer involves the business necessity of doing anything at all. Do I really have a problem and what will the payoff be if we spend the time and resources required to fix it? This is what your customer will ask themselves when deciding whether they need to take action.
To create alignment, the early stages of your sales process should focus on showing them you are a knowledgeable and credible resource who can help them think through the nature of the problem.
This is the time to identify and connect with the individual person who owns the responsibility of fixing the problem within the customer organization. Deep discovery will reveal the nature of the issue they are facing, how they have already tried to fix it, and what the ideal situation would look like if the problem was solved. Uncovering specific metrics that are being affected will help quantify the impact of the issue on the business. You will exit this stage when your customer is confident that something needs to be done about the problem and when you have helped them create a list of features and functions a solution to the problem must have.
Why you? Choosing Who to Work With and What Solution to Buy
Next, they need to decide what to buy and from whom to buy it. They will likely shop you and your competition to compare options. Answering the “Why you” question is no small thing for the customer. The recommendations and decisions they make represent risk to the organization and risk to them personally if they turn out to be wrong.
During this stage, it will be important for you to build the trust that will be required for them to believe you and your company are who they want to work with. This is the time to focus on presenting the value of your solution. You need to show how you meet or exceed their criteria. You will want to actively uncover and overcome any possible objections, and show your customer what makes you different than your competition. Anchor their trust by presenting proof that you have delivered measurable results for previous customers.
You will know you have won their confidence and it is time to move to the final stages when your customer asks you to turn your proposal into a contract.
Why now? Quantifying Urgency
It is not uncommon for you to lose a deal at this point in the sales cycle not because you were outsold by the competition, but because the customer decides to do nothing.
Research by CEB revealed that almost half of all B2B sales pursuits end with no decision by the customer. The biggest reason for this is an inability within the customer organization to agree that there is urgency and priority to spend the money, time, and resources that will be required if they say yes to your deal.
Being successful at this stage relies heavily upon the work you have done to this point. Value wins, and the best value can always be tied to achieving key business results. Growing revenue, lowering cost, expanding market share, and servicing customers better will always be urgent issues within every business. Don’t leave the value of your solution to the imagination. Quantify and communicate it early and often. Make it emphatic to ensure your customer has strong reasons to move forward, especially near final decision time when they are answering the “Why now” question.
From here, it’s a matter of managing the closing and contracting process. The best sales reps create a close plan to document everything that needs to be done, to identify a deadline date for each activity, and to assign a responsible person for each item on the checklist. All that remains is to diligently work the plan until the final signature is collected.
Putting it all Together
Examine your current sales process and how closely it aligns to your customer’s need to answer the “Three Whys.” If it fails to match up, make the proper adjustments, train your sales team on the changes, and move forward with the confidence that you and your customer will be buying and selling perfectly in sync.