By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
As a sales manager, there were occasions when sellers referred to opportunities as “no-brainers”. The inference is that offerings are so compelling, that buyers have no choice but to buy. Looking back, many no-brainers didn’t close. As with many selling issues, the problem is that this term is taken from an inside-out view rather than an outside-in customer/buyer perspective. It reflects an attitude of: Why wouldn’t they buy?
As described in Chapter 4 of the Second Edition of CustomerCentric Selling®, seller opinions about forecasting opportunities are unreliable. We suggest following Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” philosophy. Calling opportunities “no-brainers” reflects the opinions of sellers that hope to get the business. Further drill-down is needed.
Ask sellers reporting to you: Why will the buyer spend the money? It’s a subtle but important shift because the seller is forced to attempt to take the buyer’s perspective. When executing CCS®, answers provided by buyers can be summarized in emails to buyers and then confirmed. Ask sellers how the highest level they’ve called on in a given opportunity would answer the following questions:
- What business outcomes/goals do they want to achieve by using your offering?
- For each goal, what are the reasons the goal can’t be achieved today (without your offering)?
- What capabilities that you can provide address these reasons?
- What is the value of achieving the goal(s) vs. the cost of your offering?
As a sales manager, if the debriefing questions are documented and agreed-to by buyers I’d have a much better feeling that an opportunity is qualified. That said, there are many potential twists and turns. Competitors vie for the business. Logic, egos, emotion, personal agendas, risk, politics and committee decisions come into play. Business priorities change. Buyers opting to make “no decision” should always be considered an option.
Buyers don’t view large expenditures as no-brainers. Sellers and managers shouldn’t either.