Andrew Carlin, VP Sales @ Cision, gave advice to his new sales reps “if you’re withholding information to your prospect, you’re only hurting yourself”. He makes the same claim to clients as well “don’t try to play the negotiating game by not outlining your true goals and needs, as you’ll only be sorry after the sale if you don’t.”
I’m currently reading Daniel Pink’s book To Sell Is Human which discusses the paradigm shift from Caveat Emptor (Latin for "Let the buyer beware.”) to Caveat Venditor (Latin for "let the seller beware"). These points stuck to me like glue…
Andrew Carlin told me a story about a specific deal that went “off the rails”, because both the buyer & seller weren’t providing full disclosure. “As sales reps, we need to also push our clients to be honest about their intentions, or they’ll get little from their buying experience. In essence, they will only hurt them themselves in the end.”
It was only a few years ago when buyers and sellers would enter a negotiation like a dance. Sellers were not sharing vital content, pricing, and “internal IP” – fearing it would end up in competitors’ hands. Buyers would do a similar dance of not sharing real goals, budgets and intentions, hoping to create a poker face for negotiations. Both parties would enter negotiations like a Turkish Bazaar, ending up pushing buyers to continue their Caveat Emptor reservations about the process.
If your sales team is not providing a complete open-book (pricing margins, onboarding requirement, potential pitfalls, competitive comparisons) – you’re in serious trouble!
WHY? Because buyers are in a power position for Caveat Venditor, with access to nearly every piece of information necessary to make an informed decision. This does not necessarily include your sales reps! They aren’t looking to go through a negotiation dance anymore, but are requiring a resource to navigate the dark waters of purchasing.
How can my sales reps become a resource?
- Your buyer is a visual learner – content is KING! Your buyer doesn’t always (or more recently rarely) learn from 1 single cold call. They learn and trust from months of content (video’s, eBooks, webinars) that build a case for success.
- Your buyer is still afraid of Caveat Emptor, knock that barrier down – even if you’re evolving into an open-book seller, many buyers aren’t their yet. They still don’t trust you, so knock down that wall. Treat sales like a 3rd party consultant. Demonstrate insight into their market and, present the pitfalls of the solutions (both your competitors and your own). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve won a deal by being so honest with a prospect that at first… I thought I lost the deal. But my honestly helped the prospect to prioritize the potential challenges, and felt that the features we might be missing were inconsequential based on knowing the whole picture of what they were buying.
- Your buyer needs you to connect the dots & navigate deep waters, not sell – your job is no longer “selling”, but to facilitate, educate and inform. You’re a resource, a consultant, and trusted partner. You’re arming a prospect with enough information that they feel comfortable selecting your business. The best, best, best way to be that resource is to set aside 5-10 minutes every week, and provide that specific client/prospect with insight into something THEY DON”T KNOW. Send them an article, webinar, eBook or a story that sheds light on the topics you’ve been discussing together. Help shape the deal with content that will support your arguments.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t want to be left behind the 8 ball – you really need to start to take action. The following blog posts on utilizing Social Selling strategies using LinkedIn can help you start. If you are really looking for some hidden gems on how you can attract a very specific prospect, I recommend you check out 42 LinkedIn Tips
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