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SalesDog's Coffee with The Dog Newsletter
      Issue 700 SalesDog's Coffee with The Dog Newsletter October 29, 2015      
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Quote of the Week: "Failure will never overtake me if my
determination to succeed is strong enough."
—Og Mandino
 
 
Seven Ways to Get Control of the Sale in a Demanding Market
by Dave Stein

Buyers are grappling for control—total control. The indicators are everywhere: reverse auctions, tougher purchasing agents, consultants getting paid big bucks to shield salespeople from potential customers, more demands placed upon salespeople, thicker RFPs, pricing up front, more tightly scripted presentations and demonstrations, and less information available to the sellers.

If you take a moment to think back to the deals you’ve won and those you’ve lost, I’m certain you’ll agree that your chances of winning a deal where you had no influence on the circumstances were less than even. If there are five contenders for a deal you have less than a 20% chance of winning. Since one or more of your competitors probably has some control or influence over that company’s buying process, you are in a highly disadvantageous position.

It takes a good measure of courage (one of the critical personality traits of great salespeople) not to blindly follow the demands of a prospect. Admittedly that’s hard to do when you have a slim pipeline, a product or service that isn’t rated number one, your company has little name recognition or you come into a deal late.

Here are just a few strategies for gaining and maintaining some control over the customer buying process:

Ask for it, early. A long-term, mutually beneficial customer relationship begins with win/win right from the start. In fact, the beginning of the customer’s evaluation process is when he needs you the most. He wants you to answer an RFP? As a condition, ask to meet with the executive from whose budget that investment comes. He wants a presentation to a committee? In return, you get to speak with each of the committee members in advance of the meeting to assure you understand the issues, expectations and objectives.

Is this risky? Sure, but I’d rather take the risk and push the customer a bit early on and find where I really stand in the deal. I don’t like to waste my time answering questions, responding to lengthy RFPs or making presentations if I’m really only being included in the deal so the prospect can negotiate better with the vendor he’s already chosen. The way I see it, if you ask for some things and he says no enough times, that’s a pretty good indicator that he’ll say no when you ask for the order, if you even get that far.





Say "No." Sometimes, there comes a point where it pays off not to accommodate every request of the prospect. A client of mine who had totally cooperated with an extremely demanding prospect was dead in the water. He had earned credibility in the account and had proven himself to be a qualified potential supplier. But there was no feedback coming from the prospect relating to where my client stood versus the competition or what the prospect perceived as his strengths or weaknesses.

After a lengthy strategy session, we decided that we were not going to provide any more information until the prospect began to share his perceptions, observations and concerns. We figured that if we were truly still in the running, the prospect would yield just a bit. If he held fast, we would lose either way— by not getting the information we needed to continue our selling effort or, by getting eliminated.

We said, "No." The prospect was upset, but ultimately gave in. We were provided with the information we needed and began to knock off objections, one at a time.

My client won the deal, but at times he’s sorry he did. The customer turned out to be extremely difficult to work with and is never satisfied with anything my client does.

Create and maintain momentum. Your strength or force is in your information, resources, customer references, specifications, conference room pilots, proof of concept projects, subject matter experts, future product plans, executives, insights, best practices, investors, board members and all manner of capital that should not be given away for free. The value of that capital to the customer during his evaluation should be carefully measured, and then dispensed so that you’re developing interest first, then attention, then excitement and ultimately mindshare.

Demonstrate leadership and integrity. As determined and educated a prospect may want to appear, the risks associated with decision making are greater for him now than ever before. That scares him. If he believes you have integrity, you can often get in a position, over a period of time, to earn some control of the deal by leading him through his own buying cycle—by coaching, educating and guiding. If your prospect believes his success is foremost on your mind (his success is your success), he will most likely relent and allow you to gradually influence his thinking and behavior. One of the ways you can accomplish this is to introduce him to customers of yours who have gone through a similar set of challenges. Another is to have a strategic plan to win his business and to actually share (parts of ) that plan with the prospect.

Sell higher, sooner. You’ve heard this advice before. I can’t tell you how many salespeople don’t have a plan for getting executive access or miss an opportunity that presents itself because they aren’t prepared. You want to gain control in an evaluation? Do everything you can to get access to the executive who is the real buyer and tell him exactly how you can get what he needs done sooner, with less risk, and with the highest return on investment. Then ask if he’ll help you. He often will.

Recruit and train an ally. Most selling takes place when you aren’t there. If you haven’t taken the time to recruit and train an ally within your prospect’s company who will work on your behalf behind the scenes, you’re taking a real chance. Once an ally trusts you, he becomes your sleeper agent, who can provide you with information about your competition, changing decision criteria, objections to your offering, insights into the real decision-making process, and most importantly, will sell in your place when you aren’t there.

Get in early. Now is the time to target the business you’re going to be closing next quarter or next year. You want control? Get into that account before he knows he needs your solution or service. Understand his world, educate his, build demand and you’ll get control.

If you find yourself saluting and responding to every unreasonable demand your prospects makes, try one or more of the proven strategies I’ve listed above and get control of the sale.

Dave Stein is the author of "How Winners Sell". See his website here.


Written by an author included in Top Dog Recession Busting Sales Secrets. Get your copy here.

"One of these top dog secrets can earn you a fortune." - Jeffrey Gitomer, entrepreneur, bestselling author of Social BOOM!, and America's Leading Business Growth Expert

"It's like reading the best ideas from 50 sales books all in one book. It's awesome!" — Michelle Nichols, Savvy Selling International


 
Tom Reilly
Top Dog of the Week
Tom Reilly
"When products are similar or the same, and the suppliers' services rival each other, the only thing left to differentiate a solution is the salesperson. How much are you worth to the customer?" —Tom Reilly


Tom Reilly is one of the industry's foremost authorities on value-added selling. After becoming top salesman at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in his first year, he started his own successful chemical company. As president of Tom Reilly Training, he trains thousands of salespeople, managers, and employees each year. Learn more at his website here.
 
 
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Trivia: What animal has the largest brain? You'll find the answer here.
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Interesting but useless fact: The female opossum has 13 nipples.
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Tremulous is the featured word of the week. Find the definition, pronunciation key, and an example of it used in a sentence here.
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Dogfucius Say: How is it that I always seem to buy the plants without the will to live.
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Word of the Week: Tremulous adjective [ trem-yuh-luh s ]
  1. characterized by trembling, as from fear,nervousness, or weakness
  2. timid; timorous; fearful
  3. vibratory, shaking, or quivering
  4. done with a trembling hand
Example Sentence: spacer
She spoke in a soft, tremulous voice, when making her speech. spacer
Definition & Example courtesy of Dictionary.com

Trivia:
What animal has the largest brain?

Answer:
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