Magazine article Success

Play until the Whistle Blows: Salespeople Must Keep Their Heads in the Game-Staying Engaged with Clients-Until the Buying Decision Is Final

Magazine article Success

Play until the Whistle Blows: Salespeople Must Keep Their Heads in the Game-Staying Engaged with Clients-Until the Buying Decision Is Final

Article excerpt

Tom was stunned when his dream client called to inform him the company was buying from one of his competitors. He had been certain the account was won. Still reeling from the shock, Tom asked the client why he lost out. They "just felt more comfortable" with the other option.

Tom is a solid salesperson. He has an excellent command of the fundamentals of selling. He also knows his product and how to help his clients. So it was no surprise he could make a connection, develop relationships and gain an opportunity to compete for this client's business.

He did an excellent job throughout the whole process, delivering a great presentation and a solid solution. Tom's dream client was impressed and said so. The decision-makers just needed time to talk things over; they would get back to him with their answer. That sounded reasonable, so Tom waited.

But the truth is Tom quit playing before the whistle blew.

The Buying Process

Buyers go through stages. They start by discovering some challenge is preventing them from getting the results they need. Then they identify what they need to produce a better result. Once they have ideas about what they need, they look at the options available to solve their problems. Tom delivered his proposal and solution during this stage of the buying process, the evaluation of options. But the buying process doesn't end there.

In a final phase, buyers resolve their concerns: Is this the right solution for us? Are we spending too much money? Are we investing too little? Do we trust this salesperson and his company to get us results? Are we going to be embarrassed by this decision?

This stage comes late in the game, but the game is still being played. It isn't over until a decision is made. Effective salespeople know their roles don't end after the presentation and proposal.

Let's look at another salesperson.

Playing Until the End

Karen had just delivered her pitch. Afterward, her client said the decision-makers would review more proposals, make their choice and get back to her. Her prospective client was engaged, polite and complimentary. But Karen understood the game wasn't over just because she had finished her presentation.

She listened carefully while her buyers explained their process and then asked to be part of it. Karen said: "I understand you need time to discuss your options as a group before you make a final decision. I'd like to ask you for the opportunity to meet with you as you work through that process, so I can answer questions that come up, clarify anything in our proposal as needed and resolve any concerns you might have about choosing us. I want you to be 100 percent confident in your decision even if we're not the right fit. Can we schedule a follow-up call for next week?"

As it turned out, her dream client did have concerns. Karen met with the decision-makers a week later because they wanted a better grasp of her pricing model, which was higher than that of some competitors. They also wanted to clarify differences between her solution and those of her competitors. Karen resolved their concerns, demonstrating how and why her solution was different, why it cost a bit more, and how it would deliver better results. …

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