Waiting for better times?

THE most common objection our sales executives (that’s the two of us) receive from a potential customer is:

I know what you’re going to say (nervous ha ha) because it doesn’t really make sense (nervous ha ha), but we don’t have the time to do this right now even though we realize how much time it will save us. (uncomfortable smile with eyes staring at shoe laces)

One thing is clear: 95% of the time, that’s not the real reason. (But not to worry dear potential clients; we understand that you are not beholden to us to explain your real reasons – though that would be much more helpful for all of us)

Another thing is also clear: 95% of the companies we contact need our services like a fish needs water. This is not as subjective as one might think. But before we tackle that, let’s focus on where we fail when we fail.

There are five main reasons why we get the “We don’t have time” response:

1) Our value proposition was not clear enough

2) Our value proposition was not focused directly on their current needs

3) Our value proposition did not reach the right decision-maker

4) We strayed from our value proposition

5) Some or all of the above

So it’s not that we’re dumb, we just need to improve. Of course, knowing what to improve upon helps a great deal.

I can say that I know this with great confidence because, on average, we return one hour per day per employee back to the organization we provide our services to – with just one of our services. AND we do it in two to four hours.

Every company has their own priorities, and I can’t go around changing those. But if we look at it squarely and do the math, one would be very hard-pressed to find anything on the market that can save a company 10-12% or more of its knowledge worker cost for under $500 and within half a day. Time-savings is just one of the value propositions (the easiest to illustrate quickly), but I do not wish to digress.

This means for less than the cost of a day’s work an organization can save over 20 days – per year!

And so what?  Maybe I should have pitched increased efficiency or 46% decrease in stress or the 95% adoption rate after 6 months, or something else that THAT Particular customer wanted to hear.

So let me cut to the quick and offer my two cents about what I believe to be true in service selling:

It’s not price.

It’s not time.

It’s not budget-timing.

It’s not whether you wear a red tie or a blue tie or no tie at all.

Most of the time.

(By the way, I’m assuming that you show up on time and have an outstanding service etc.)

It’s about understanding the value proposition from the perspective of every individual decision-maker.

If you’re good, you can sell tea to a coffee drinker, wine to bud man, Mahler to a Boss fan at exactly the wrong time for them to buy (according to someone who doesn’t understand the value proposition the way she or he does).

In the end, it’s knowing your customer’s dream; figuring how your product fits in to their dream; collaborating with them on understanding the dream of their team or their superior(s); figuring how your product fits in to their collective dream; getting them all to nod their heads in unison with the thought of having their dream fulfilled and knowing when to close. That is sales.

It’s not about waiting for the merger to be complete or the next budget period or the 17th reorg.

And I learn it all over again every day.


 Michael Hoffman

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