Buyers are bombarded with information. It’s crippling. I’ve seen the worse cases of “Analysis Paralysis” with buyers who are looking at content from competitors and are trying to understand it. They look at websites, articles, pricing sheets, videos, and sites that do comparisons. After talking with a salesperson, they still can’t figure out why one solution would be better than the other.
If your sales team is wondering why their deals are stuck, they need to help prospects make sense of it all.
Buyers already have too much information to sort through. Sellers need to change from givers of information to guides that help buyers make sense of information.
There is simply too much information out there. Even if you started with the assumption that it was all true, there is simply too much. When buyers need to make a purchase they need help.
According to Gartner, buyers are fatigued. They have so many steps to go through and so much info to digest, it is difficult for a buying team to come to a consensus. Sometimes it is simply because they don’t have enough time to consider everything thoroughly enough to make a decision. Many times, they are comparing solutions that look exactly the same and can’t differentiate so they can’t decide. Sometimes the two solutions look so different, they are confused about which would work best.
I’m tired just looking at it, it is no wonder buyers are fatigued.
What You Sell or How You Sell it?
Sometimes what you sell is not as important as how you sell it. You could have the best product in the world but if your salespeople can’t differentiate it from the competition and make the buyer journey easier, they won’t win deals.
So, the best product doesn’t always win. The best salesperson usually wins, even when they are not selling the best product. When all solutions look equal to the buyer, if the price is also similar, the best salesperson will win.
What To Do
The best salespeople today are being coached to be guides. They are learning everything they can about their customers, their customers’ industries and their customers’ customers. They are bringing insights and adding value but they don’t stop there. They are helping buyers make sense of all of the information.
Here are the key attributes of a Sense-Making Seller Approach from Gartner.
- Connect to Relevant Resources – Diagnose customers’ information needs and provide curated sources/tools, helping them feel that they know all the relevant information.
- Clarify Information Complexity – Reduce the complexity of the information environment by filtering and processing information for customers.
- Collaborate in Customer Learning – Help customers evaluate the quality of information and arrive at their own understanding about difficult issues.
In a complex business to business sale, there are many buyers, with differing opinions and feelings about what to buy, when to buy and how to buy. It is the seller’s job to bring them to consensus. This only happens if the seller can build rapport, and gain trust and credibility. Your sellers must have the business acumen to do this. Selling skills and product knowledge will help but business acumen and emotional intelligence are key. They have to relate to the buyers and help them make sense of it all.
What I like to do is lay out all the solutions in a T chart and write out the pros and cons. Then compare. This quickly shows where there are gaps in the information, and I can guide them on what questions to ask to fill the gaps.
When you do this, you risk the chance of pointing out that one of your competitors or an in-house solution is actually the best solution. In that case, you may lose the deal but the trust you gain puts you in a completely different position. You will be the first one they come to in the future if you maintain the relationship and you put yourself in a position to get great referrals.
Another making sense tool I like is the Mutual Action Plan – MAP. As the seller, you can lay out all the steps with the buyers, which takes away the confusion of the above depiction of the buyer journey.
Like the title of the book by my friend Deb Calvert says, “Stop Selling and Start Leading.” Sellers need to be helpers, guides, and sense makers. They need to lead the buyer on their journey instead of running alongside or chasing it.
What will you have your salespeople do?