In this series, we have explored the stages of the Sales Lifecycle. First, we discussed building your prospect lists, as well as knowing and understanding your product/service and its ideal client, available here. In Part 2, we covered best practices as you reach out and connect with a prospect, spending time in discovery in the Connection Phase.
After completing the Connection Phase, you have uncovered problems they are facing, internal challenges, and consequences for not making changes. You believe you have effective solutions that can support their strategies and solve their problems and challenges. More importantly, they are solutions they have not tried before. You are ready to Pitch!
The Solutioning Phase is just about the easiest phase of the sales lifecycle. You know your product/service, have done your pre-work to understand its unique value, and have completed copious discovery, so you know how it can help your prospect. Now you just need to share your solution with your prospect. Here are the keys to keep in mind when solutioning with your client:
- Keep the solution about them! Canned, or generic solutions are not beneficial and do not showcase that you are focused on their
- When presenting, reiterate the problems and challenges you have discovered previously and give them time to add anything else that may have arisen since your last conversation.
- Showcase the Solution, the Advantage it presents to the client and their problems/challenges, and the Benefit your solution provides to them.
“Mr. Smith, when we last spoke, you shared that Widgetgram’s new emerging alternate fuel technology product is dependent upon new parts being developed in Europe and needing to be shipped to your new manufacturing facility. The timing of the shipping and delivery is critical as it affects manufacturing performance, and your previous shipping partner had reliability issues. Is there anything else that has arisen that is a concern since we last connected?”
“Mr. Smith, based upon our discussions, I believe that Xpert Logistics can provide Widgetgram with the timely shipping of the needed parts that are so critical to the success of your new product launch. I am so confident we can support Widgetgram’s strategic priorities that we are willing to guarantee our reliability and back it up with recommendations from other clients. Let me share with you the unique plan I have assembled, the steps we will take to solve your pain points, and how that will save you both time and money.”
Now imagine you have pitched your Solution and are feeling confident that your prospect is going to make a purchase. You ask about contracting and are met with immediate hesitation. How do you overcome Buying Reticence?
Buying Reticence is a signal that you missed something during discovery. You have not uncovered a problem or challenge that the company is facing and it is now affecting the buying stage. Before you can gain the sale, you need to go back to the Discovery stage. The good news is that there are a couple of simple questions you can ask:
- I see there is hesitation in moving forward. What is driving that?
- I am sensing there is something I have not addressed. Please share with me what may concern you.
Asking these probing questions should help you move towards uncovering what you missed. Once you discover what is holding decision-making back, you will be better prepared to either elaborate on your current solution to address concerns or modify your solution as needed.
Let’s pause here for a moment and address the most common reason given by prospects when asked about buying reticence: price. It is almost never about price. That is a strong statement to say but it is a true one. When a prospect brings up price related to your product/service, it is because you have not clearly defined the value of your solution to them. Cost savings come in all types of forms. Returning to my example, efficiency and reliability are two areas where I could elaborate in my solution and detail how my solution will save Widgetgram money.
Finally, if you have done your pre-work correctly and understand your competition, you also know where your pricing sits and what competitive advantages you have over others. All of these factors – and believing in your product/service – should give you the courage to maintain pricing integrity. The fastest way to become just a commodity to your prospect is to drop your price at the first sign of resistance.
After Gaining the Buy
Once you have overcome buying resistance and the prospect has moved to a client, you have gained the buy – the contract is signed! What next? Whether your organization has a Customer Success department or not, you still need to keep in contact with your client. The Sales Lifecycle does not stop. Remember, the most common representation is a circle for a reason!
Continuous discovery will keep you informed of any new potential opportunities, as well as risks with a client. Further, it keeps you top of mind when competitors reach out, and informed in the rare occurrence that a situation arises that risks the account. One of the biggest mistakes I see is that Sales often thinks their job ends when the client signs the contract. Make sure you are using your CRM to set up reminders/traces to reach out and connect regularly with your clients.
The Sales Lifecycle is a classic for good reason. If you follow the steps, keep a keen focus on the prospect, and effectively craft a unique solution, you will close business.