If you attempt to get meetings just to ‘get in front of’ a prospect (assuming that your solution will rule the day); if you present to whichever prospects will agree to see you; if you pitch when the buyer doesn’t have all of their ducks in a row, you’re not only wasting your breath, but potentially losing a sale.
Until or unless the entire Buying Decision Team is in place, the buyer will not know how to hear you: until everyone who touches a solution has had their voice heard, and adds their choice criteria to possible solutions, a buyer doesn’t know what they need to buy.
Let’s say you and your Partner have a brief, rushed chat as you leave for work, about the possibility of moving. When you return for dinner, you tell your Partner you’ve got a surprise: You’ve bought a great house on the way home from work and you’re moving next week!
You would probably have a massive fight: there are too many private, behind-the-scenes decisions that must be made to manage each person’s criteria, feelings, future plans. Bigger house/smaller house. Leave the city/move to country. Move to a different state/different country. Near one kid’s school district/near someone’s work. Will your house sell easily? Do you need to call the bank and get a loan/financing if you don’t sell your house first? When to put your house on the market?
Let’s say instead of coming home with a new house, you called a friend and said you might move, and the friend called me since I’m a realtor. I call you up the next day to tell you about this fabulous house.
Do you want to hear about the house? Why not? You’re not ready: you won’t have made all of the decisions you’ll need to make to have the relevant choice criteria to even consider the house. It’s too early.
SELLING VS. BUYING
There is a difference between your solution and what a buyer needs/wants to buy/is able to buy; between your selling patterns and a buyer’s buying patterns. And buyers will only buy according to their buying patterns. If you use selling patterns, you are merely selling to those folks whose buying patterns are the same as your selling patterns.
Think of the telemarketing industry of a decade ago. Their solutions were fine. It was their selling patterns people objected to.
Until or unless buyers have all of their choice criteria ready, they won’t know how to hear you; won’t know the details to listen for; won’t know how your solution would fit. It’s like offering house details before they’ve decided to move. And they won’t use your criteria to make their choices.
When you contact a prospect, if you’re attempting to gather data about their ‘needs’ before the entire Buying Decision Team is on board, you are only hearing one set of possible buying criteria, from one person who may or may not be on the Buying Decision Team, and who probably doesn’t know the full set of criteria. It’s a waste of your time and theirs – hence, a tiny fraction will speak to you, and a smaller fraction of possible buyers will give you an appointment.
When you call just to make an appointment, you are getting rid of a minimum of 90% of your list because they don’t want, or aren’t ready for, or see no need for (whether they need your solution or not) a new solution. And those that will agree to see you are already in the market, so you enter in a competitive situation.
You are wasting over 50% of prospects by trying to get an appointment before they have determined their buying criteria. And at this point in their buying path, you can’t help them choose to see you, or decide to purchase, using the sales process.
YOU CAN HELP BUYERS BUY: BUY NOT WITH YOUR SOLUTION
The last thing buyers do is choose a solution. My latest book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it explains all of the off-line decision issues buyers must address before they have the full set of criteria to know what solution to choose.
Instead of calling them to ‘understand need’, call them to help them navigate their buying decision journey. Instead of trying to get an appointment, use your connection to help them figure out what Excellence would look like for them. And once you’ve helped them put together the full Buying Decision Team, then the whole team will be eagerly waiting to meet you.