Selling to the 3rd Dimension


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Isn’t it strange the way sales people forget everything they know about buying when they start talking to prospects? Quite why that happens is a conundrum – something which absolutely doesn’t make sense, and yet occurs all the time. Selling the 3rd dimension requires them to think about how they buy for themselves, and stand in the buyers shoes before deciding what, and how, to sell.

Every sales professional knows more about buying than they do about selling. They do it all the time, and have done since parents first gave them change to buy sweets, or candy.

In their personal lives, sales guys buy houses, cars, furniture, clothes, food, tools, toys, services, and lots more. They buy something almost everyday. They understand there’s always different dimensions to any purchase decision.

But when it comes to the day job, they seem to forget all about the complexity of those dimensions and just blast away with the sales pitch. They hit the phones, the email, the network – whichever fits their sales model – and make their presentation.

“Here’s what I want to sell you, and why you should buy it.”

Sometimes the prospect wants to buy, which is good news. Most often the prospect doesn’t, which isn’t. Objection handling might help a little, but not a lot. Never mind – when in sales you have to kiss a lot of frogs, right?

Contrast this with that same sales professional in buying mode. She knows buying anything is a challenge. There’s always the question of whether she wants what this purchase will do. Then there’s the question of whether this is the best way to spend the money. Finally there’s a need for her to feel good about the decision.

We might describe these as:

  • Motivation – what will the purchase achieve.
  • Justification – why this is a good way to spend the cost.
  • Gratification – how she gets to feel good about making the decision.

Doubts about any of these parallel and yet totally separate dimensions will cause our shopper to delay a decision, avoid a purchase, and keep looking for a more complete alternative. She’ll walk away to ‘think about it’.

In B2B – Business to Business sales the customer has exactly the same dimensions to satisfy, although they might be described differently:

  • The Business Imperative is the reason for the buying effort – the Motivation. Usually something to do with the implementation of an agreed strategy, the business imperative is a need to do something within a time frame, and at a cost. If there’s no imperative there definitely isn’t going to be a deal anytime soon.
  • The Business Case is the Justification. This is the accountants way of measuring the efficient use of the money, and usually gets expressed as ROI – Return on Investment. Businesses don’t make buying decisions without a way of getting the money back.
  • The Personal Agenda is what the guy who makes the decision gets out of it – how the person taking responsibility for both the business imperative and the business case gets rewarded for doing precisely that. Meeting the business imperative within a satisfactory business plan isn’t enough. There’s something else – a promotion, a pay raise, a good review, a risk avoided, a new chapter for the resume, a personal satisfaction?

The topic of this article is that third dimension – the personal agenda.

Sales professionals who can identify, and satisfy, the business imperative are well on the way to making a sale. Adding a solid business case will improve the chances of winning the deal. But identifying, selling to, and satisfying that personal agenda is the secret sauce. That’s what converts the buyer into a coach.

And that isn’t easy. It’ll be unusual for a buyer to reveal what she wants to get out of the deal, personally. The sales guy will need to discover that through building a relationship, asking the right questions, and standing in the buyers shoes.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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