MERGE Fall 2012 Newsletter
Why Change? Why Now?
Answer Earlier in Buy Cycle to Close More Deals
Are your prospects already deep into their buying process by your first meeting? Do they already sense how to solve their business issues? If true, allow me to simplify your sales timing.
Like you, your prospects run businesses. They’re alert to challenges and solutions. Research on the internet. Contact with competitors. Talking with peer groups. Prospects educate themselves as diligently as you prospect. By the time you arrive for the first meeting, they’ve already formed opinions. Any they may not include you.
Forrester Research claims prospects are 60 percent through their buying cycle before the first communication with a salesman. They’ve done their homework. And, likely, built experience in buying what you sell. So, how do you get ahead of the cycle?
Today, a prospect can size up your company in seconds from your online presence. And since we know one rarely gets a second change to make a first impression, your sales footprint must cover a lot of fertile ground. While your sales force sleeps, your web presence marches forward to attract ideal prospects mid keystroke.
News articles, annual reports, industry reviews, research studies, CEO blogs, online portals, analyst reports―in an infinite variety of formats― await our click. Prospects form viewpoints in a confusing confluence of messaging. With too many choices, they may do nothing for fear of making the wrong choice.
Knowing that attitudes, beliefs, preconceptions form early, shaped by the information discovered in vendor research, it’s only prudent to calibrate our timing to the prospect’s buying cycle.
Regardless of the industry, at any given time, 10 percent of potential clients are actively in search of a solution and inclined to buy what you sell. Another 10 percent may be interested in knowing your solution but are “just looking.”
In reality, 80 percent of your target market has no particular knowledge of or interest in what you have to offer, although they’re aware of certain issues they face and must solve. The art of timing of your initial prospect conversation has the power to cinch your closing success.
When first engaging with your ideal client, answer the core question on his mind: Why change? If you see or hear some agreement, target the next answer: Why now? Whatever you do, avoid comparing yourself, your company or your product or service to competitors. That’s the Why us? And it’s premature because it forces your prospect to pit you against the competition.
They’re not ready yet for “why us” messaging. They’re simply thinking: Do we do something different or are we okay? If we do need a change, do we do it now? A costly mistake, if you jump the gun. Sixty percent of the time, prospects put in this position stick with the status quo. But you know this.
Take a mirror to your own sales timing. Many advisors and consultants misjudge the sales readiness of the prospect. Because we’re optimists by nature, we can make faulty assumptions. And think . . . if my prospect wants to speak with me, he must be ready to buy my proposal. We kick into high gear, get involved in the competitive bake off, and lay out our most competitive buy arguments.
Create the Buying Vision
Thinking logically, prospects need to agree to change in the first place, then decide when. It is your responsibility to loosen their grip on status quo. That’s why you should do your best to actively create the buying vision. Do your research, enter the prospect company early, and at a higher level. When equipped with a deep understanding of issues and alternatives, you will close more business, naturally.
Again, quoting Forrester Research, 65 percent of executive buyers admit they prefer to buy from the company who helps establish the buying vision; the remaining 35 percent say they’ll agree to conduct a fair and square bake off to determine the right vendor.
It makes sense then that top-tier advisors don’t spend limited time finding buyers, instead they create buyers with fine-tuned research, a well-timed approach, and at the highest possible level of decision maker.
I encourage you to follow the MERGE process, which systematically leads you to answer prospect questions in a logical, simplified sequence. You’ll help clients see more of what they need. And improve your own results in the process.
What Keeps CFOs Up at Night?
CFOs spoke out recently in a survey by CFO Magazine revealing a thorny list of challenges that could be addressed by trusted advisors, if you’re not already doing so: Balance sheet weakness, working capital strategies, executive benefits and compensation plans, to name a few. Opportunities for you.
The Female Niche?
If a market segment occupies 51 percent of the U.S. population, two-thirds of the workforce, represents more millionaires by gender, and sole responsibility for 80 percent of household financial decisions, is it a niche? Hardly, it’s a force for profit. That was Mark Tibergien’s conclusion in a powerful article in the July 2012 issue of Investment Advisor. If you missed it, read the full text here. It’s an eye-opener. Can you find your feminine side?