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Why being terrific isn’t good enough to make a sale

Submitted by on Wednesday, 30 December 2009

TERRIFICNOTE: Due to the holidays, we are reposting favorite posts. Original posts will resume January 5th.

I have begun searching for a couple of new vendors, and am becoming painfully aware of how many people think that because they are good, that’s all I need to know. Even when a couple of the folks tried to gather data from me, I felt resentful because either they should have read it on one of my sites, or they were gathering data I wasn’t prepared to give them since they were strangers. One even started the conversation by asking me how I was going to make my decision (I admit that I smiled here. Obviously my work is now ubiquitous and the guy’s boss told him to ‘find out.’ But he had no idea what he was asking for or how to do it.)

Indeed, I need to discover how I will choose my vendors.  What criteria will I use? And who on my team needs to make which decisions with me? I must figure these things out before data gathering – 0r sharing – is relevant.

I teach this stuff – and I don’t realize how vital it is until I am the buyer and feel what it feels like to be treated like I’m sitting here waiting for them to show up and open myself up to these strangers as if I knew and trusted them.

I had a chat with a friend today and we discussed how buyers are seeking data to make decisions with. So companies are making as much data as possible available on the net. But what, exactly, does that give the sellers? They are in the same position they were in when they did a lot of presentations, or wrote a lot of proposals: telling prospects they are terrific, that they have terrific data, and that they ask terrific questions.

Does this help the buyer buy? Well, yes and no. It helps the buyer buy only when they need that specific data set to move forward, or to offer their team mates as proof of concept, or when they are just beginning to gather data to see if a change or possible new solutions would offer them something. But what percentage of these people are buyers? No idea. When will they buy? Well, we know they can only buy when there is internal buy-in for change, regardless of how terrific a vendor or solution is, and regardless of how much ‘pain’ they are in. So all of this internet data is not helping the internal decision structure be more efficient because it doesn’t address the personal, political, and emotional issues going on behind-the-scenes.

One vendor sent me a 3 page testemonial showing how she was really ‘there’ for the client – but in a way I would never use her for. So I guess she’d be terrific for someone else, because I would need her for something different and I can’t close the belief gap.

As sellers, why do we focus on ourselves? Why do we think that being terrific is good enough to make a sale? When are we going to realize that before buyers can see how terrific we are and understand why and how and when to use us, that they have some internal work to do, privately? And sales just doesn’t manage this.

Who would we be if our jobs were to help buyers figure out how to make the decisions they need to make even before they might need information, or before they need to know how terrific we are?

sd