It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome Rick McAninch to SalesGrok as a guest blogger! Rick is a master of our craft and he has some invaluable advice on how to be successful in any economic climate. I've learned almost everything I know about value based selling from Rick. Enjoy!
There’s a lot of dispute over the origin of the famous quote, “may you live in interesting times.” Many people believe it to be an old Chinese curse. Others think of it as a blessing. I think we can all agree that for people in the sales world, these sure are interesting times!
What’s happening in your world? Many people are seeing orders fall off and prices collapse. Budgets are frozen or slashed, approval levels for even the smallest of purchases are rising to the highest levels, and many projects are being cut. More of the same is expected for 2009. Can a salesperson survive these “interesting times?”
The answer largely depends on you. I’m a firm believer that it’s easier to change your own behavior than it is to change someone else’s. So what do you need to change in order to succeed?
In good times, it’s often enough to discuss the buyers problems and how your products can help. Many times this leads to building a plan for evaluating and buying the products and services in question.
But what about now, you ask? Clearly, something more is needed.
First off, buyers are out there spending money every day – they’re just being more careful about it. They’re asking tough questions about the impact that each purchase will have on the business objectives and business issues they face. They want to know what makes one solution better than another and why they should pay more for it. They’re looking for solid ROI – but they also have a lot of interest in what’s in it for them personally.
So why not help them answer these questions?
With a little preparation, you too can have a conversation with the buyer about their business. Check out the press releases on their web site, read an analysts report, and Google for other sources that help you understand potential business issues. How are they dealing with the latest challenges in their industry? What about that new initiative or product launch you read about recently? What is their highest business priority and WHY is it important. Anticipate and confirm their business issues are and you will build credibility in their eyes, and understand the world they are making purchase decisions in. Here’s a tip: business issues usually involve what needs to happen to generate revenues and profit!
Business issues give you the “context” for your conversation about problems and ideal solutions – so go ahead and develop these areas with your buyer too. Make sure you highlight problems that might impact their business issue that your products solve better than your competitors.
What’s next? Well now that you’ve discussed their business challenges and the best way to solve them, it’s time to discuss the value they see coming with success? If they can fix their business issue, what does it mean for their company? For them personally?
Make sure that you are having this conversation with the right person! Again, I recommend the direct approach. Why not ask “who else besides yourself is involved” and “what’s important to them?” Ask this of everyone you talk to and see how their answers compare.
Last but not least, go ahead and build that plan for evaluating and buying your product or service. But ask yourself this: does your buyer care when YOU get the order? They are more likely concerned with THEIR priority business issue. So make sure you build your plan along with them and anchor it with their business issue. It is, after all, their reason to change!
Build habits around these behaviors and you won’t just survive in interesting times – you’ll thrive!
About Rick McAninch Rick has been coaching sales leaders in use of the ValueSelling Framework® since 1996. He specializes in working with companies that are facing challenges created by the changing economy, acquisitions, increased competition and a host of other sales management complexities. Rick has consulted with leading companies worldwide including: Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Ingenix, Blackbaud and many other technology, service, financial and healthcare organizations. You can reach Rick at email@example.com.