Why You Never Lead with Your Brand, Product or Service

One of the toughest challenges in solution selling― client decisions usually require change. People hate change, especially buying groups. For them, change brings risk.

In complex sales, you deal with multiple decision makers. Each one needs to be educated on how your offer affects their area of responsibility, so you must lead them to the solution rather than lead with your solution.

If you use an approach that embraces an educational-based process, you then give prospects unique perspectives on their business, and you involve them in collaborative communication, which encourages client-validation.

Educate and lead to the solution.

Don’t lead with the solution.

Many advisors cite client services as a key differentiator. While a noble goal for all of us, it seldom lands sales. How do you prove it? Besides, the competition’s pitch is the same. Clients already expect and demand quality service; it’s a bare bones price of entry. Yet everyone keeps selling service.

Products don’t make the difference either. The competition also offers good products. From the prospect, seeing any real competitive advantage is like standing in the breakfast cereal aisle at the supermarket, scratching your head over which one of the 435 brands to bring home to the kids.

For the adults, insurance is insurance, managing money is managing money. Clients just can’t see a major difference among top firms. Frankly, most competitors sell similar if not the same products. So how do you promote your difference?

Decision by Consensus

To simplify and sell complex sales, you need to understand and think like the group, and not at the expense any one individual’s need for trust and confidence. You need to master diplomacy and build consensus in decision making like the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (perhaps even better). Consensus decision making inspires the new buying process in companies today.

For years after losing to a competitor, I would ask client’s “what we could have done better,” or “what was it that the competition had that we didn’t.” Time and again, I heard, “Nothing, you guys were great but our team felt more comfortable with the competitor.”

M-m-m.  A better buying experience. When I added up the wins over loses, I discovered when we began the sales process with a good understanding of prospect business issues, discussed overall solutions (alternatives), and spent the time educating and focusing on a solution verses a product―we won.

When we won and I asked those questions, we heard instead:

“You guys really knew our business.”

“You were not trying to push a product.”

“Our team felt good about the collaborative nature of your process.”

“We feel good about the decision we made.”

No Shortcuts

An educationally based process is a natural sales progression for clients who look to solve issues, not buy a product or service. Education showcases the value of the advisor to help prospects analyze alternatives, explore creative thinking, see new concepts previously beyond their vision.

This doesn’t mean you should stop investing in client service, brand-building or product innovation. But recognize, these efforts are not what prospects explore seriously on the front end of buying cycles. They’ll notice it near the end to justify their decision.

Now, go out there and find your inner diplomat.

See on you the upside,

Bill

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