In complex sales, getting one person’s perspective is just that. And how well does that one buyer’s perspective usually reflect the whole story?
Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time both observing and coaching professional salespeople in the field. I marvel at how often salespeople, even those that are good, solid performers take the word of a single buying contact as gospel. In other words, they seek only one person’s perspective, and they don’t bother to seek others’.
As a professional salesperson myself, I understand that it is a lot easier and certainly more efficient to go to one source of information rather than going to many sources. Validating the intelligence that one can gather and confirming the whole truth takes time. It also has a clear payoff. Yet many salespeople still won’t take the time to seek more than one buying contact’s perspective.
Is it because of laziness? Is it fear? Is it just a lack of awareness that causes people to accept one (buyer’s) version of the truth?
Maybe it’s some or all of the above. I am really not sure. Rather than try to determine with certainty the reason behind this single-buyer-perspective syndrome, let’s look at the effects. Following are the top ten things that happen when you get one (and only one) person’s perspective throughout a buying cycle:
- Poor assumptions about the buying process. Assuming that one person really has the authority and the capability to make a buying decision without validation, input, or approval from others is deadly. Very few companies allow their people to buy that way any more. There’s too much risk.
- Positioning the wrong capabilities or emphasizing things about your capabilities that the customer won’t ultimately value. If you only know what one person in an organization values, how can you demonstrate value to anyone else?
- Wasted time. Chasing down information, writing proposals, revising proposals, making offers…it all takes a lot of time. If you have to do it several times over because you didn’t anticipate that others would be interested in weighing in on what you propose, then you’ve wasted a great deal of time.
- Skipping some really important conversations with key players in the customer’s organization.
- You lose or… Heaven forbid… you win but set your solution up for failure. Depending on just one buyer’s perspective creates a great deal of risk that your solution will not address the needs and outcomes that others desire. Prepare for frustration and disappointment if you lose. Prepare for dissatisfied customers if you win. Either way, it’s not good.
- Wasted resources. See #3. You’re probably wasting others’ time and valuable resources in addition to yours.
- Selling to the wrong person. See #6 and #3. If you’re selling to the wrong person, it probably means you’re not really in a buying cycle at all. You’re just making friends, which is nice, but it is not what you are paid to do as a professional seller.
- Selling not once but several times. Back to the drawing board! You didn’t bother to get Sally’s perspective, so it’s time to sell to her now.
- Getting blind-sided. Is there anything worse than finding out that someone else’s perspective mattered more than the person on whom you were focused? One feels really dumb when that happens. Getting blind-sided sucks.
- Surrendering control over the buying process… to someone who may not have your best interests in mind. Some buyers like the attention of salespeople. In fact, they’ll take it all day long, as it makes them feel important. So hand over the reins to that one buyer who’ll be happy to give you his perspective on everything but not bore you with anyone else’s perspective. He’ll take care of you in the end. Right?
With that top ten list behind us, the question I pose to you is, “Why would you take one buyer’s word for it ever again?”
No, really. Why would you?
Comments and feedback are welcome, as always. Please feel free to share on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, or forward this post along to others who might enjoy the discussion. I love new friends. I will be back soon with another post and with a really exciting announcement about USR and our new Total Customer Strategy offering. Stay tuned!