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How is staying stuck in your comfort zone, hurting you?

Human beings tend to look for what feels familiar. This is a dangerous comfort blanket in sales. If you’re in IT sales, it’s time to wake up to the fact that “80% of IT purchase decisions in 2019 are being made by the Line of Business” (Jay McBain, Lead Analyst – Channels, Partnerships and Alliances, Forrester, 2018). Marcus Cauchi, Sales Trainer at Sandler, explains why its time to get out of your comfort zone.

Are you fat, dumb and happy and putting your future at risk?

If you aren’t comfortable speaking to the business about what matters to them, you will always find yourself in a place of assignment where little or no decision-making power resides. IT is still important as an influencer, recommender, technical buyer or even a specifier, but Power, Financial Decision-Making hold the keys to the kingdom. Users are critical too if a solution is to deliver the results the Board’s strategy is aiming to achieve.

Partners and vendors too frequently forget that talking about the product is like showing photos of your ugly kids to strangers. They’ll politely look at one or two photos but then they are thinking “How can I get rid of this pest?” and they shunt you to IT. That is sales Siberia.

Buyers buy for their reasons, not the seller’s reasons

You must understand who is in the cast of characters, what each person’s role is, how they like to communicate, what impact they have on the decision in this deal and are they a friend, neutral or enemy?

When positioning your offering you need to have conducted a thorough diagnosis before you prescribe any solution. To prescribe before you diagnose is selling malpractice.

What do they do day-to-day? Reporting lines? How are they measured? Who’s scrutinising them? Who’s affected by their work? Who’s looking for them to fail? What personal pressure are they under? Where are they in their job lifecycle, their career? How old they are? Are they paying for private education? Looking after elderly relatives? Nearing retirement? What are their motivations for changing or staying stuck?

People buy emotionally and justify using reason and logic

Your diagnosis needs to uncover more than the results the business wants to achieve. If your solution is to get buy in, it needs to help them overcome the problems and pains they face day to day that are affecting them personally. We had an enterprise sales client who sold a $3m deal to a CTO because he didn’t have an implementation from that vendor on his CV.

Where is their business in its lifecycle?

Is the business in start up? What sort of pains do those businesses experience?

Is the business in “continuation” (gentle growth or flat-lining)? What problems do they experience? What do they struggle to do?

Or businesses in growth or hyper-growth? What pressures does growth create on staff, resources, cashflow?

Or turnarounds? Stress, need efficiencies, cut costs and heads, automate, outsource?

And businesses in recovery? Are they licking their wounds, playing it safe or are they trying to get back on an even keel? Perhaps they are looking to achieve growth, fast?

You must be asking these 4 questions AND getting answers before you can advance the sale to a conclusion:

• What is the product or service you are offering?
• What will it do for them?
• What is the benefit to the business and to them personally?
• How will they measure the benefit?

You differentiate in how you sell, not what you sell

It’s rare for end users to go to one supplier without checking out the competition so do you understand the competitive landscape and how to outsell your rivals, even if they are the incumbent?

Who are your competitors? What are their equivalent products or services? What are their strengths? What’s the weakness in their strength? Can you set trap questions for them to fall into? Do you know who your competitors’ coaches are? Do you have coaches of your own? If not, how will you develop them?

Do you produce a written pre-call plan? Do you rehearse what will happen in each meeting? Do you do a verbal and written post-call debrief to capture lessons learned, identify actions and next steps you need to take, individuals you need to engage with?

If you want to sell more you have to learn how to sell outside of IT where you are comfortable. You will find this much easier if you have a system and the right tools.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine