First Gain Trust - Then Meet the Buying Committee Ready to Discuss Their Needs - part 1
Whenever I'm invited to meet with the buying committee of a prospect without first gaining trust with my
sponsor’s in the company, "the hair on the back of my neck stands up". Here is Dan Lemke’s story, part 1.
I just put down the phone and was excited the Buying Committee on a large project wanted to meet. My problem, I did not know many of the people who were going to be in the meeting. Understanding their needs, while building trust, was my primary objective before I set foot on the plane heading east to meet with the committee.
As they say, it is difficult to stand out in a crowd and our job is not to be like every other sales person buyers meet. Easily said, this is the what and why, now, how and when do I accomplish this feat?
I needed to build rapport, gain trust, and discover the needs of 10 more people before next Wednesday.
NOTE: Here is pdf version of the slides to Shifting Concerns of Individuals Making B2B Buying Decisions.
Understanding how to make our products stand out is the main stream of product education in most companies. Unfortunately, making ourselves stand out is often brushed over in sales training.
I learned back in 1975, "First Gain Trust, Then Gain Business" is an unwritten law in selling. Learning to develop a human connection is as important as any relevant facts or steps used throughout the buy sell cycle with new and existing clients.
Our job is to be a buying facilitator and create the Best Buying Experience.
To create the Best Buying Experience requires us to focus on the shifting concerns of individuals as they make buying decisions. Sensing where they are at in their buying process. While we discover their needs before any product details leave our lips.
Think back to my Buying Committee, it is made up of individuals. Yet if I walk into a room full of buyers as a sales person, they likely expect what to leave my lips? You guessed it, product details.
Backing up buyers to discuss their needs in a buying committee when they are getting close to a buying decision is not only difficult; it is likely not what they are expecting. Worse yet, they may already have a Vision of a Solution, and if I didn't help them create the Vision, odds are it is not mine.
Buying Committees prefer to line up product and service features alongside the requirements of their project. However, if I wasn't first in to discover their needs, guess whose features would be in their buying requirements? You guessed it, the preferred vendor.
Here is a tactic I have always taught, "You can’t win a feature-function war, first make yourself equal, then make yourself different".
At this point I needed to do my best to understand the needs, respective responsibilities and to build trust with each member. My objective was to align the buy sell cycle by connecting on a personal level with multiple buyers making a buying decision. While discovering the needs of each individual and helping them understand how the capabilities I provide can help them achieve their needs.
In Consultative Selling it is our job to help buyers uncover solutions for their compelling business needs.
It is proper behavior to be able to explain our products and services in ways our customers can easily visualize the business usage to help achieve their needs. However, at this point, I did not know all of the compelling needs of the Buying Committee members.
Clearing my calendar of lower priorities I set about interviewing each of the individuals I was able to reach, documented the discussions back to them and asked them to share the information with others. Asking them to share the information demonstrates I do not plan to go behind their backs. I also wanted to make sure if any of the information is considered sensitive, they can determine how best to share the information. Remember, we build trust one step at a time, however, you can easily lose it in the blink of an eye.
As I boarded the plane heading east for the meeting the hair on the back of my neck was calming down. There was a mutually agreed upon agenda in place for the meeting and compelling business needs had been established with all of the members I was able to reach. In addition, the needs had been shared amongst the buying committee members by each member directly. The buying committee was moving towards a common Vision of a Solution based on value.
At this point, I need to wrap up and will tell more of this story later, evaluation phase - part 2.
Our clients tell us to become proficient at consultative selling it is not enough to ask good questions and listen. We also need to stay aligned with our buyers shifting concerns as they are making buying decisions and demonstrate behaviorally correct skills throughout the buy sell cycle.
Building Trust and The Best Buying Experience in B2B is a series of articles being written by the Vision Group.