Selling to Groups – Like a Picnic in the Park


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My mind doesn’t work the same as most people. I always seem to find a sales analogy buried somewhere. Frank, who writes the Sales Archaeologist Blog, has that ability too. Recently, at a picnic with my family, I took note of all the guests and couldn’t help but to see the similarity between the picnic and selling to a group.

Representing the competition were the ants – ready and willing to take anything that they could away from us.

A bird was flying overhead ready to crap all over us. This reminded me of the prospect that has a strong relationship with the incumbent vendor. They sit there and wait for the perfect moment to make you look bad.

The Yellow Jackets couldn’t stay away either. No, like the folks from purchasing, they don’t like it when you have a get together without them and they’ll find a way to sting you if you don’t play the game by their rules.

Butterflies were fluttering about and they reminded me of the interested observers who join gatherings like this but have no influence and attend to justify their existance.

Who wasn’t there?

As with most group sales calls, the real decision makers weren’t there. These are the executives that task others to gather information but don’t usually appear in the meetings. Bears didn’t appear at our picnic either because they don’t work out of the location we visited. They were up north and completely out of sight.

So what are the take aways from this silly analogy?

Prior to a meeting with a group it is always crucial to learn the roles and responsibilities of each attendee. If the people you need to have in the meeting haven’t chosen to attend, several things could have occured:

  • You did not uncover a compelling reason for them to buy so it wasn’t important enough for the right people to be there;
  • You didn’t differentiate yourself enough for decision makers to take you seriously;
  • You didn’t uncover the timeline and they aren’t close to being ready;
  • You didn’t have the right people in your first meeting and their job was to protect their boss;
  • They have no intention of doing business with you so they didn’t want to waste the decision maker’s time;
  • They were simply picking your brain, learning about your capabilities, and teasing a proposal out of you so that they could get a better deal from the company they wanted to buy from.
Of course there are more possibilities but you get the picture. Many salespeople try to push forward even when the right people aren’t scheduled to attend but it’s generally a formula for failure. Follow the sales process the right way, from the beginning, meeting all of your intended milestones. If you can’t reach the next stage because a milestone could not be met, stop the sales process. People want what they can’t have but if you give them what they want, despite not meeting the milestones, you won’t have any leverage later in the sales process when you really need it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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