When your customers tell you “NO” that’s what they really mean. “NO” signals business disconnect.
“NO” is unexpected when you are focused on pushing your own selling agenda. When your customers tell you “NO”, your sales strategies and value propositions are not aligned with their top priorities. How do you prepare for the term “NO” in your account development strategies?
I offer four strategies for you and your team to work on.
- Do your homework, together. Pool your resources and collaborate. Utilize the non-traditional sellers in your company to gather information about your customers’ processes and practices. Who are these people? Non-traditional sellers are all the folks in your organization who “do” everything outside of your own selling or engineering function. Often your non-traditional team members are better able than you are to have peer-level discussions with their counterparts within your customers’ organizations. They are your secret sales sauce!
- Look for your customers’ areas of dysfunction. It is far easier for customers to tell you “NO” than to say “Yes.” “Yes” involves work on the part of your customers. They may not be willing to work together on your behalf because they don’t work very well together in the first place. Determine the history and context of their dysfunction. Is this the reason your sale is stalled?
- Invite everyone to the party early and often. No matter what the size of your customers’ companies, there are usually one or more individuals who are purposefully overlooked or avoided when making decisions. Sometimes these folks are higher-ups. Determine whether members of the customer team you work with are, in fact, intimidated by them. Leaving these decision makers out of early discussions results in their being blind-sided at the end, when their signature is required for the capital purchase of your product or service. Ouch!
- Identify legacy decision-making processes. People don’t make decisions by thinking and evaluating in a straight line. However, organizationally, your customer’s decision-making process may be just that: a constant hand-off from one decision maker to the next. Buying teams can be comprised of up to seven individuals, or more. This type of straight-line decision-making process perpetuates loss, rather than profit. Straight-line legacy decision-making processes can be improved. Focus on getting everyone seated around the decision making table, simultaneously and perhaps virtually.
Develop effective value propositions and processes around each of these strategies. Showcase to your customers what it’s like to work with you and your company. Differentiate your own capabilities while making a huge difference to theirs.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, catalyzes revenue-producing business transition, startup growth and professional development. She works with traditional and non-traditional sellers and owners in the manufacturing and engineering space as well as in the B2C space. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. This article is excerpted from my April article for Top Sales World magazine and is reprinted with this author’s permission.