“In all matters, before beginning, a diligent preparation should be made.” Cicero
Many business development and sales initiatives fail because the client’s needs and expectations were not met during the sales process. I call these events–sales pinches. Some of the pinches include: lack of information gathering and poor call preparation, poor analysis of the client’s problem, lack of information before writing a proposal, presenting solutions before listening and understanding, and presenting solutions from your point of view rather than the buyers. Sales can not be a cookie-cutter approach but needs to be experienced by the buyer as a sincere and customized approach to information gathering and problem solving. The solution we offer must be seen as a “value proposition”.
Here are a few of the missed steps and pinches that are inherent in a sales process: sales associates pressing for a sale–often called the hard sell that is experience as insensitive to customer needs. Such an ego-centric process usually involves boiler-plate proposals and misaligned sales presentations. These efforts primarily focus on the sales professional’s and the selling organization’s assumptions of what the buyer needs, while the customer-centered process presents information, solutions and proposals that understand and are empathic to the buyer’s goals and expectations. When a sales step such as a presentation and proposal doesn’t close the deal there is probably a “Needs and Expectations Gap”. This gap exists because the alignment between the buyer’s expectations and the seller’s sales approach are not insynch. If you salesperson isn’t aware of the gap– the potential client has little reason for listening to or buying your pitch. We can’t be successful if this happens to often in our selling efforts.
Why the “Ego Centric” sales-driven process fails to close the deal?
The “ego centric” approach lacks seller empathy and specific and unique understanding of the buyer’s business, issues and opportunities. Let’s take an example from one step in the sales process–proposals. The vast majority of companies can easily produce an “ego-centric sales-driven proposal— just replace the name and date on the cover page and let the word processor change the buyer’s name throughout the document. Such a proposal does not close the “Expectations/Perceptions gap.” It does not help the buyer buy—it only tries to sell. It is usually a boilerplate proposal that totally ignores the buyer’s expectations and unique needs.
An Ego-Centric sales proposal:
- Does not include insight into the buyer’s current operation, business issues, opportunities for improvement , or needs and objectives
- Has generalized money making or saving statements
- Includes a generic product or service description and benefits statements
- Does not include customer references and document evidence of past successes
- Does not include specific productions, implementation, installation or conversion time frames and schedules
- Is vague regarding buyer and seller roles and responsibilities
- May only lists unit prices forcing the buyer to estimate total fees and prices
- No calculations on return on investment or years to payback for their investment.
An “ego-centric communication approach” to selling includes minimal seller empathy, lack of buyer information and need to sell quickly–close the deal. Next time I will review the customer-focused strategic sales approach.