Most sales people know that people buy for their own reasons. One would never buy a car if he or she did not need one. You could say the same thing about buying a new home, but you know that once you start looking for one, whether casually or seriously, many questions arise. Should you upgrade or downgrade, get a larger yard or smaller yard, have an attached garage or not. And, then there’s the pet store or animal shelter. Forget about it. Whether you wanted a pet or not, you’ll probably take one home with you. (Or, maybe not.)
The point I’m trying to make is that people buy for their own reasons. So, when your management tells you to sell X number of a certain product or service, do or die, you do. You find someone in the organization who needs whatever product or service you are selling.
But, it’s hard going. These types of sales cycles usually take longer since you are typically selling technology and not business outcomes. Plus, you tend to sell to people further down the organizational food chain where other priorities take precedent – pushing your deal further down your pipeline. It may close. Or it may never close. Either way, you do the best you can since this is what your management asks of you.
Why do people buy? It’s our job as sales people to understand specifically what key stakeholders are trying to accomplish, their top priorities, and the “why” behind their decisions. If this information is not obvious to you, then you have some work to do. You need to figure out whom to approach and use your relationships and others in your organization to get to them, and what you’re going to say.
At the corporate level, especially at a public company, you can get this information pretty easily. Some public companies provide detailed KPI stats but others may not. Either way, you need to get a feel of what each organization is trying to accomplish, why and by when. Don’t settle for generic answers like “increase revenue” or “decrease cost” – this is not doing proper discovery.
Now, let’s take it one step further. Many complex sales involve various people in multiple lines of business. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to understand not only the corporate goals and priorities, some semblance of timing and why that is important to each key stakeholder. You must also understand the same things for EVERY line of business you are working with.
Triangulate whether or not the key stakeholders in the different lines of business all believe that your product or service will help them attain a priority business outcome. Then, take it one step further by understanding how each line of business’s priorities and timing affects or links to corporate initiatives and priorities.
I can hear it now: “Wow Janice, that is hard and will take a lot of time.” My response typically is, “Yes, but you have no issue spending your time on deals you’ll never win – ones that cascade quarter to quarter, where the buyer has no real need, priority or budget for your product or service.”
So, back to my original point: People buy for their own reasons. In a complex sale, there are no silos in a given organization. It’s all interconnected and your job to understand it as best you can. Anything less, and you’re most likely going to throw sh*t at the wall hoping and praying someone buys something from you. Where do you stand? Pushing boulders uphill (hard) or selling top-down (much easier)?