This one was in the bag, at least in your mind anyway. Now you are thinking about all the wasted time and effort you put into this sale that has just slipped through your fingers. And you don't have a clue why. What was your prospect thinking? They must have it wrong. It just doesn't make sense...
We have all been there, so let's have a look and discover what went wrong.
The main problem is that you didn't get into their world - you were still in yours. In their mind, you didn't offer the whole solution to their problem or at least have a better solution than your competition. Result = No sale.
In my world as a business coach, I try not to assume that I know what every business owner wants. But we all just want more sales and more profits, right?... Well, no, the reality is often more complex. Many business owners do need more sales and more profits, but sometimes they need other things even more. For some the highest priority is to get more time with wife and kids, less stress, a holiday once in a while, freedom where the business does not rely on them so much that they can't take a breath. For these business owners, if I talk about more sales and more profits, it just sounds like more hard work - exactly what they don't want!
In a sales meeting/presentation, or negotiation of any kind, both sides must agree first on the objectives of the meeting. If you do not, you will be heading in different directions and often this results in the sale being dead in the water.
So how do you get into their world? You need to be a detective and search for the real problems your prospect wants to solve. And here is a clue - often the first answer they give, is not the answer you are looking for - there is another important layer that you still have to find.
Let me give you a real life example from a sales training I did last year. I'll recount the story for you - details are accurate but not verbatim:
A real estate agent had a customer, who we will call Jan, who was looking for a house with a "nice view". Jan had been around all the real estate agents in the area and no one had been able to find a house she was happy with. Our real estate friend showed her all the houses that she believed had the best view including looking over the city, looking out to sea, overlooking some beautiful open parks. But much to her frustration and surprise, every single house Jan was shown, almost immediately received the same response: "No, this is not what I am looking for".
Every option seemed to be exhausted and she seemed no closer to finding a house Jan was even remotely interested in. So the real estate agent had to try a different approach as this one clearly wasn't working. So she asked her client a different question: "All the houses we have looked at I thought had a good view, but you didn't like them. So that I can understand more clearly what you are looking for, can you tell me what you mean by a good view?"
Jan explained that her husband liked repairing old cars and he would do this in the driveway. She was sick of looking at half assembled cars and car parts when she looked out her kitchen window. Everything she has seen so far had a view of the driveway from the kitchen window. Suddenly, our real estate agent understood what Jan really wanted, and she now had the complete answer. The next house she took Jan to, she loved. Jan found a house, the real estate made a sale and everyone was happy.
Now Jan is a raving fan, and this is what she said to the real estate agent once the deal was done: "You were the only real estate agent who took the time to understand me and what I wanted - Thank You". Did finding Jan a house have to take that long? - NO, it just needed the right question.
Our real estate friend was never going to get there by assuming, only by getting into Jan's world. This is a true story!
Here are some questions that will help get you into the customers world:
- What are you expecting to get from using this product/service?
- What are the main benefits for you?
- What is the main problem you are expecting to solve with our product/service?
Try threading these into you next negotiation or sales meeting - you will be surprised what you discover. It may be the difference between making your next deal or missing out.