By Mike Jacoutot, Managing Partner
Each week, I review the new client opportunity pipeline report with sales leaders who have engaged Butler Street to help perfect their client development. It never fails that I have to deliver the following message to a sales executive on at least one of the client opportunities that they have ranked with an 80% probability of closing. “Trust me when I tell you that you’re not going to win the contract.”
These are tough words for any salesperson, sales manager or sales executive to hear. Surprisingly, it is often followed not by a question, but rather a defensive reaction, something along the lines of: “Well, with all due respect Mike, I disagree with you. We have a great relationship with this customer and truth be told, I don’t really think you know our business. BOOM!! There it is, the “you don’t know our business” objection! We call that objection “terminal uniqueness” and it is often the reason why you lose deals. And here’s why....
Terminal uniqueness prevents you from asking the right questions in the sales cycle because you assume you have the answers (after all, it’s your unique company). As an example, let’s look at Bill T., Vice President of Sales for Lassiter Solutions Unfortunately, Bill sees his company in the software business with all of its associated nuances, product jargon, bits, bites, etc. Butler Street sees his company in the “customer” business. You see, in selling, it is not what you know that kills you, it’s what you don’t know! And when you are in the “customer business, you win by building a structured, repeatable methodology to understand what you don’t know. And that methodology must be able to guide you to answer the following questions:
Who are the key decision makers (KDM) and decision influencers (KDI)?
What are the critical concerns and objectives by KDM and KDI?
What is the process for making a decision? Individual? Committee vote? Consensus?
What is the decision criteria? How is weighted?
What alternatives exist for this customer?
What is the driving force behind the decision? Why does the customer have to act?
Is there someone on the inside providing us information and insight?
These are just a few of the questions you need to be able to effectively answer to ensure success. We have not even touched on strengths and weaknesses v. the competition. Unfortunately, Bill and his team could not answer most of the aforementioned questions. Again, it’s not what you know that kills you, it’s what you don’t know.
Most sales training programs are still pushing the same content for twenty years. The problem is, the world is now flat. Prospective buyers have more insight about you, your services and your competitors than you know about them. They hold the knowledge edge right now. They have the control.