By Cliff Findlay
We’re normally not a big fan of cheesy self-help business acronyms but take heed of this one because it will make a real difference to the way you approach your market and drive sales.
F = (Fear).
It’s important to understand that most B2B purchasing decisions are based on Fear. Fear of buying incorrectly. Fear of getting sacked if they get it wrong. Fear of a poor ROI. The B2B purchase is one that is typically driven by need rather than want and the outcome is critical to the growth and improvement of the business.
Therefore if a poor decision occurs it tends to fall onto someone’s shoulders. Hence the saying ‘no-one ever got sacked for buying IBM’. If the decision was the wrong one then the problem wasn’t the decision makers’, it was IBM’s. After all IBM was the biggest PC/Network Company at the time so what else could the employee do? To allay fears look at the client’s issues and how you have solved similar problems in the past for other clients.
Focus on how the decision maker wishes to be communicated with (DISC profile) and tailor the way you work to make communication as easy as possible for them. Get to the bottom of the emotional connection with the issue as quickly as possible and not just the fulfilment of the need.
A = (Apathy).
Amazingly (to you) some people can’t be bothered to fix the problem you specialise in solving. They think it’s too costly or too much of a faff. Perhaps they’re delusional, but you must take their hesitancy seriously, perhaps by dramatizing the potential pain. Look at what they are missing out on, how they could fall behind, what their indecision to act could cost them, etc. Sometimes apathy can be a disguise of ‘the information gatherer’ where they actually have no intention of doing the project, they are simply trying to get as much free information as possible to use as they wish. Beware these types of ‘buyers’ as they will typically ask you to do lots of work for free on the pretence that there is a great big pot at the end.
C = Complexity.
Don’t make the sale too difficult. Saying ‘yes’ needs to feel like the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Perhaps go for a short sale that could potentially open up a bigger sale over the longer term. If yours is a complex proposal, pare it right down… and then down some more. Try it on an outsider. Do they get it? The more complex the sales message, sales process or sales structure the more likely you have of the buyer getting disenchanted, bored or maybe losing the will to live. The more you reduce, the easier you make the whole thing seem and the happier, relaxed and confident the client will become.
T = Timing.
Unless they’ve come to you, judging the right time to approach a client can be a tough one because you simply don’t know whether there’s an immediate requirement for your product or service before you’ve spoken to them. If the timing isn’t right for them at the moment, leave them well alone and come back to them at a later stage. Adult to adult conversations and a definite agreement of when to talk next can work, however, often if the client isn’t ready now they possibly never will be.
It could also be that the timing may be right, but the client themself is not actually aware of it. Try walking your prospect through plenty of ‘pain points’ to turn your product or service into a pressing need. Ensure that they understand why you’re the right company for the job and then leave them alone, popping in now and again with a quick email to see how things are going. Often they can convert, whether it is with you or not is another matter.
S = Stuff.
Yes, that is a technical term and it covers a lot of unexpected situations. The buyer leaving the business, personality clashes, the project being canned, no budget, ‘the MD said no’, someone suggested they should work with someone else, internal politics, the list is endless. Just…stuff. Annoying though they are, these types of situation do arise at times. The biggest issue is that you never know when they will happen and it can be tricky to convert a sale once they occur so it’s important that you get a proposal signed and sealed as soon as possible. Getting immediate buy-in from senior decision makers, providing clear, concise proposals and offering instalment payments can all help.
Hopefully these FACTS can help you fix potential holes in your sales process or enlighten you as to why sometimes you may have lost business in the past. Good luck with your B2B marketing and happy hunting!
Latitude Solutions Ltd
t: 0208 920 3435
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