Michael Bosworth in his excellent book “Solution Selling” (see Amazon.co.uk) identified the three key stages of selling solutions as:
- Understand the need
- Agree the solution, and
- Minimise the risk
Unfortunately we often seem to want to jump from stage 2 to a close without engaging the buyer and helping them to minimise their risks.
Some years ago I worked alongside an incredible IBM new business salesman. A true sales eagle soaring high above the rest of the sales team and exceeding his target year after year. He taught me to positively engage the buying team in considering the project risks and to do it three ways:
- Consider the weaknesses of your offering. This may be price, company size etc. and positively consider how your solution helps the buyers’ “mitigate” these weaknesses.
- Consider your competitors and their weaknesses. Now positively consider how your solution scores strongly in helping to mitigate these perceived competitor weaknesses.
- Finally consider any other buyers’ issues and concerns and consider how your solution gives them peace of mind on these issues.
Now don’t be alarmed if your competitors don’t do this. That’s a great positive for you.
I have done precisely this to great effect very recently. I recommended to a client that in the final presentation, they do not jostle to “go last” in the presentation pecking order. I recommended they go first and leave the prospect with a written Risk Analysis covering the points above. Any buyer worth their salt will have a similar list of their own.
Now the whole buying team has your list in their hands after their first presentation. What do you think will happen to the second presenter? And the third presenter? The buyers’ will use your risk analysis to challenge the ill prepared competition about their perception of risk. You should not be surprised if this positions you head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
Terry Forsey Consulting