At some point in the sales process, your resellers need to ask their customer if they would like to buy your product. This, in turn, means the customer needs to make a decision – buy or don’t buy. Of course, if you are buying something like gas (or petrol) for your car, there really is no decision – it’s just a habit – there is no buy or don’t buy decision to make. But when making ‘non-routine’ buying decisions, trepidation creeps into the process. What if I screw up? What if I am paying too much? What if my (fill in the blank) doesn’t approve? What if the salesperson is lying? (See Credibility). What if? What if? What if? Gasp… "Let me get back to you……." Of course, your sales person is now at their most vulnerable point. What if they ask the customer to buy and get REJECTED? Am I really as good at sales as I think I am? As I am supposed to be? What will my (fill in the blank) think? What if? What if? What if? “Why don’t you get back to me next week?” Or, “Feel free to look a round, I’ll be here if you need me…”
This is the pivot point of the buyer/seller relationship. It either goes south, off the tracks, and down the tubes here or moves forward to a deal. But, if no one moves forward at this point – there is no deal. No traction – no satisfaction. How your resellers handle this is vitally important to them and it is vitally important to you.
The best way to know is to be on the shop floor or in the presentations to see how they are handling it. But being there is not often easy so what are the indicators to look for? Where possible, ride along with the highest performers and the lowest performers to see what is happening at this crucial step in the customer engagement process. Here are some indicators. If your resellers are in retail environments, look for numbers of door swings per deal and benchmark amongst your channel members to see where the ranges are. Those with lowest deals to swings ratios may have a problem. If your product or service typically rides on top of another sale, see what percentage of those sales actually pull through your product. For example, if you sell fish bowls, they ride on top of goldfish sales (wouldn’t that be a cool visual?). If your resellers need your input to create their proposals – look at their close ratios; you ARE tracking that aren’t you!
I once built a great little lakeside cabin in the eastern Ontario woods with my three sons (sounds like a TV show). We did a great job at squaring the floor and walls and went on to build the roof. But, you know that 1/16” down at the base of the cabin really gets magnified when you get 15 feet up to the roof ridge - in some places up there we were out 2 or 3 inches. As long as you don’t look too closely it works OK, and it hasn’t fallen under the weight of snow - yet. (I only have to worry about getting the damn squirrels out now.) This current series of posts on sales starts with customer Awareness, Engagement and establishing Credibility and then adds some Emotion to set the stage for the ask. If these first steps are not right on, then your ask is going to be 2” or 3” off and you’ll get squirrels in your roof. Too many sales people rush into closing the deal when in fact they should be building a relationship based on trust and respect. Without that… well, see above. Fear of rejection is a big factor usually based on lack of product knowledge or confidence that they are offering the best solution for the clients’ needs and wants. Sales people have a responsibility to manage the whole buying process and to support their clients through it. There are numerous sales training programs available to help with this. IMHO one of the best is run by www.Sandler.com. They recommend that sales people create ‘contracts‘ with their prospects and in effect, let the prospect close the deal. It works very well and is super cool.
Capture data from the sales process – (not just the outcomes).Ride along with the best and worst resellers.Provide guidance to the resellers on how to ask – for your product or service.Create options for your resellers (packages of Good - Better - Best). It can be all your own or mixed with other vendors.Design a sales flow* that simply continues the relationship – “Of course I’m buying it.” *(A flow, not a script, is a sequence of events or conversations that creates a customer. Ping me if you want more info on this.)
First the bad news. By encouraging your resellers to use a flow process, they should be disqualifying prospects sooner – fewer wasted presentations. But I guess that’s a good thing. The good news is, by giving your resellers better tools to manage the customer relationships, closing ratios will improve, and the huge bonus is that end customers will be better matched to your solutions resulting in higher happiness and fewer call backs.
The Ask is the fifth in a series of posts on improving sales channel efficiency and flow.It follows Emotion