Sales Tips: Meeting Changing Needs


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A competitor changes one of your prospects needs by providing a product with a capability your solution doesn’t possess. That’s right. It’s something the prospect now says they want, and there’s nothing on the horizon with your R&D department that would suggest you will have that capability anytime soon.

Oh yes, things do change, and for some there’s nothing much worse than a competitor who changes the playing field by convincing a customer they need something you may never have.

Take a deep breath and relax.

There are a lot of things in a sale that can change, but this is one of the ones I am less concerned about. Some might panic, but not me. More times than not, a changing need, even if it’s associated with the capability you’ll never have, just isn’t that big of a deal. You want to know why? There is a significant difference between a buyer’s need and the criteria by which they will determine which solution is best. I am far more concerned about changing criteria than changing needs.

First of all, let’s examine what is really happening when a customer expresses a need.

When they say they want or need something, it is always fear based. What I mean by this is they fear if the need isn’t met, they will experience a negative impact in terms of their productivity, efficiency, image, revenue and expenses, etc.

Let’s say as an example, a buyer says they need local service. The requirement for local service is likely based on a fear that if service isn’t a local, it will take longer to get it. If service takes longer to get and what they bought is inoperable, they fear a loss of productivity, efficiency and revenue, among other things. The requirement for local service is to ease the fear. If service is local, surely it will be faster. Ah, now I won’t be as afraid.

That’s right. What I’m submitting is that every single need stated by the customer is based on that same type of fear. If the need isn’t met, they believe they will experience a negative impact.

So let’s use this as an example of a situation where a competitor changes your prospects needs by convincing them they need local service. Just to prove the point, let’s say your company doesn’t have a service facility in the local area. I submit to you that you are in no worse shape than the other three companies competing for the business who have local service facilities.

Want to know what to do?

Understand what the buyer wants a local service organization to do. I promise you it’s not that they just want technicians or service people in the same city. They want them to do something, like resolve their issues quickly. If there are multiple organizations that are local, that doesn’t mean that those organizations have met the customer’s needs. Faster resolution to their problems is the issue. That also goes for companies who aren’t local. So was the actual need ‘local service’, or was the need fast resolution of problems?

I promise you that if a service organization that had no local presence could prove through whatever means they fix problems faster, they can and will beat the local service organizations even if the customer clearly stated that local service was a need.

The same goes for product capabilities. What do they actually want the capability to do? What negative impact do they fear if they don’t have that capability? If you can find a way to have a greater impact on the fear, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have the capability. The customer just wants to make certain that they are maximizing the opportunity to avoid negative impact.

Don’t let their fear become your fear.

So remember, even though you can’t meet a particular need, relax. DON’T FEAR when a competitor changes what the buyer says they want. Don’t try to avoid or eliminate the need. Eliminate the fear. Do a better job at that, and you’ll win more often than not.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Nicols
Bob Nicols serves as Founder and CEO of AXIOM. He has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN.


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