Why Can’t We See What We Must See

Blog81_WhyCantSeeA few months ago, a large high-tech company ran into some costly issues with its 401(k) plan. In an effort to solve the problem, the head of human resources, at the direction of the company’s CFO, invited three provider-firms, and the incumbent, to complete an RFP (Request for Proposal).

These firms were asked to make a 90-minute presentation to the retirement committee at company headquarters.  The assemblage included several buying influences from finance, human resources, operations and legal. To give providers ample time to prepare, the “pitch” meeting was scheduled 30 days out.

This meeting was a golden opportunity for the firms, so each put its best people on the project to prepare its best pitch. Three of the four, including the incumbent, made the age-old mistake most sales people make. They focused on product and service features and the details required of the RFP, spending time deciding who would speak to each section.  They beefed up their PowerPoint presentations, and brainstormed on how to build rapport with the committee members at the outset of the meeting. It was the classic dog and pony show.

The fourth firm went back to its planning session to review why people really buy, and to determine why this prospect would buy.  At the heart of this thinking is this message: People buy for their own reasons, not ours. This is not such an obvious message as you may think.  It is a critical message because until you know your prospect’s reason for wanting― or not wanting— to buy, you’re selling with blinders on.

No matter how many reasons we may have for believing our products or services are great, those reasons mean nothing unless you can uncover and apply each member’s solid reason for wanting to do business with you.

Solid, closed business begins and ends with understanding the prospect’s needs, problems, and range of reasons for buying.

In the example above, the fourth firm spent the time to understand the key issues and each buyer’s vision for a solution. It invested time and effort during the 30-day preparation window to understand why the company issued the RFP, why it was unhappy with the incumbent, and what it saw as a possible solution for the issues faced.

It this case, the issue was poor participation in the plan by lower-level employees, which caused pressure on the company’s discrimination testing. The incumbent had recommended a company match, which was costly. Knowing there had to be other solutions, the company opened up the RFP.

The other three firms focused on what they thought the solutions were, suggesting a better investment fund line-up, lowering fees, and beefing up communications. What’s more, the fourth firm asked to meet with committee members to hear their vision for a solution, and asked if they could do a survey to the company’s participants to learn the reasons for low participation. Results revealed a lack of education and a need for a stronger communication and education strategy around enrollment, not the elements of the 401(k) plan.

Best of all, the fourth firm won the RFP. Because firm four knew to start with why, the real winners were the company and its employee-participants.

Take your blinders off.  And see your way to success.

See you on the upside, Bill
Welcome your thoughts at [email protected]

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

Thoughts and Comments

Copyright PleinAire Strategies, All Rights Reserved

Please accept our free offer for the entire 14-module MERGE 2.0 Sales Training Course (Retail value $495) for the next 60 days.

Use promo code free2020

Register for Free Now