In many books on selling a familiar scenario is depicted. If, as a salesperson, you can uncover your prospect’s challenges and provide cost effective solutions, then the deal is yours for the closing.
Of course, this is a rather simplistic and one dimensional approach. When one makes a purchase there are other considerations that have to be kept in mind. In other words, buying exists in an eco-system. For example, when I travel, I will often treat myself to a duty free bottle of single malt whisky and a salesperson in the shop may ask me all sorts of questions about my tastes and budget etc., in order to persuade me to buy.
However, even in my home, an eco system exists. Arriving back with a wonderful bottle of whisky for myself, with nothing for my wife, does not go down too well. On the other hand, arriving back with a box of my wife’s favourite chocolates, or perfume, makes my whisky purchase a much more palatable one. Therefore, when considering a duty free whisky purchase, I have a personal agenda that goes beyond what I may traditionally be asked in the shop.
A salesperson should keep in mind four areas that can significantly affect a sale and won’t necessarily be understood through a one dimensional approach. By keeping these areas in mind, a salesperson has a better chance of understanding the eco-system in which their prospect is operating.
1. Personal Agenda - It doesn’t matter whether one is buying in their professional capacity or as an individual, a personal agenda will affect the purchasing decision. For example, personal circumstances might mean a decision is put off or brought forward. A supplier with whom periodic face to face meetings will be necessary may be favoured because they are on the way home from the office. As a salesperson, it is important to find out the individual’s buying criteria and not just the company they are representing.
2. Professional Agenda - People are usually looking to safeguard, secure and enhance their reputation. In a new role, this can mean doing something very different in order to establish their position. In a long term role this can mean not rocking the boat. Possibilities of promotions, the need to impress certain colleagues, with particular views etc., can all influence a purchase. Salespeople need to understand the other personalities who may be involved directly or indirectly in the purchase. Understanding the individual’s professional circumstances can make a big difference to success.
3. Practical Agenda - Timescales, budgets, locations and specifications etc., can all affect purchasing decisions at a very functional level. Often, the traditional sales approach will uncover these criteria of purchase. However, missing any of these can instantly put an end to the opportunity.
4. Emotional Agenda - People rarely go against their gut instinct and feel extremely uncomfortable when they do. Emotional baggage such as a very good or bad experience, in a similar purchasing situation, can have a large affect on a decision. Understanding how a prospect ‘feels’, is arguably more important than knowing what they ‘think’.
Of course, selling is not prescriptive. There is no one single way to achieve the desired result. However, understanding some of the truths about human behaviour can certainly assist salespeople in their effectiveness. The fact that buying is never a one dimensional resolution, simply based on problem and solution, must be recognised. By understanding the eco-system in which a purchasing decision is made, any salesperson has more chance of success.
By Grant Leboff, CEO of Sticky Marketing Club providing companies with effective sales and marketing strategies.