In 2006 I discovered the practice of Fractional Sales Management before it became an emerging…
In every selling process a buyer will make many decisions that lead to their final buying preference. They decide to research your product, take your call, meet with you, or visit your office. Every email they choose to respond to is a decision; each piece of information they agree to hand over is a decision they make. We, as sales people, often think in terms of sales stages as our yellow brick road to a sale. We will only reach that sale if the buyer’s decisions allow us to arrive at the final decision making event. So, what’s the most important decision to focus on to improve your selling results?
If your answer is, “The next decision the buyer has to make,” you have chosen wisely. Since one decision leads to the next and ultimately to purchase, the next decision is always the most important. If you can put your full attention, creativity and interest in helping your buyer make the next right decision “for them,” you’ll have more selling success. This success would include more engaging conversations with interested buyers.
Approaching the very next decision is very similar to an NFL team focusing on the next game. Their goal is to win the Super Bowl but they know the successful formula calls for taking it one game and one play at a time. In sales, we can often get caught up moving people to the final decision too quickly, rather than focusing on the current decision to be considered. Focus on one decision at a time and before you know it you will arrive at your goal.
Many buyer decisions lie within each of your selling objectives
There is a connection between your sales objectives and the buyer’s decisions. There is usually a group of decisions a buyer needs to make that will satisfy your objective. Understanding the group of decisions that exist will help you assist the buyer in their decision-making process. Focus your attention on the first decision in your group and only move forward once a decision is made.
Reading an email is a decision a buyer makes
When you send an email to a buyer engaged in a sales process they are making a decision to open it or not. They also make a decision to read it carefully or just scan it. Of course, you want them to open the email and read it carefully, but do they? When you become aware that this is a decision they’ll be making, it makes sense to put a little more work into helping them make a conscious decision to open and read your email.
Here’s an example of two approaches to sending over a proposal via email to be reviewed and considered. The salesperson’s objective is to have their proposal considered and discussed to provide direction on a possible buying decision.
(1) Quick and easy
I’ll send you over a proposal to review, okay? All that has happened here is the buyer has agreed to receive your proposal. The decision they made was to have it land in their email box. They will have to make the decision to read it and prepare for another discussion with you when it arrives. Although you did focus on the next decision in front of them, you missed the opportunity to continue to a few more next decisions.
(2) An approach that understands the decisions a buyer goes through
First decision is if they want to review a proposal.
Would you like me to prepare a proposal for your review as part of your decision making process? If they say yes……
Next decision is if they will review it to my expectations.
I would like to hear your thoughts, questions or concerns once you review the proposal. Would you be open to a discussion on the proposal contents once you have reviewed it? If yes………
Next decision is on how fast they want to move.
If I get the proposal to you on Monday, how long will you need to be prepared for our conversation? They say, “I can be prepared by Thursday.”
Next decision is if they want to make a commitment to a date to discuss the proposal.
Could we schedule our next conversation for the week after I send you the proposal?
If the buyer answers yes, schedule the meeting right then so they can check off one more decision.
Which approach will have the best odds of having the proposal reviewed as we hope? The one in which the only decision made is to receive it or the one that requires preparation for a meeting already scheduled on their calendar?
Can you also see how much time you might save by not having to make endless follow-up calls? You’re not making the buyer do anything they don’t want. They’re deciding on what’s important to them, and you helped them get there.
How to identify buyer decisions
Identifying the decisions buyers need to make is a simple process. Decide on your goal or objective for your next meeting or conversation with your buyer. Then put yourself in their shoes. Which decisions will they need to make to arrive at your objective? If you take your time and scratch your head you will probably come up with a number of small decisions similar to the group in the example above. Write them down and prepare questions as I did in the example to help them make those decisions. These are not closing questions, they are decision-making questions.
You will know where you stand
When you pose a decision-making question to a buyer it’s possible they will decide to not move toward your objective. If that’s the case, congratulations. You can now make a decision yourself. Is it worth your time to continue with them or should you let this prospect go? Knowing where you stand is a powerful place to operate even if it’s not your preferred position.
Tell me what you think. Is this a new concept to you? What’s your experience? Add your comments below.