Sales Tips: A Business Case for Business Cases
By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
After deciding you need to buy a new car it would be unusual behavior to start randomly visiting car dealerships to take test drives until you find the car you feel is the best match for your needs. People don’t have the time or the inclination to do so.
A more efficient approach would be to evaluate your needs, decide what you can afford to pay and create a “short list” of cars that fit your criteria (sometimes with the help of Consumer Reports, JD Powers, social networking, etc.). This will usually yield a list of 5 or fewer options and you would then start looking at these cars at dealerships and decide which you deem worthy to test drive.
Over the last 15 years or so there has been a frenzy of what has been erroneously been referred to as “buying activity” for B2B vendors selling complex offerings. In many cases without initiatives and budgets from senior executives, mid to lower level staff take it upon themselves to start product evaluations that amount to doing test drives before determining desired business outcomes and approximate costs so value can be estimated.
The Internet allows today’s buyers to do research on cars and reduce the number of car salespeople they have to deal with. In B2B situations, mid to lower level staff fear that salespeople will somehow manipulate or take advantage of them. For technology offerings many researchers have scars from past unrealistic seller claims about the ease of use and implementation.
The unfortunate result is that self-appointed “buying” committees are bad for prospect organizations because time is wasted. If and when contacted, vendors and sellers deal with people that have already made up their minds about their requirements and will be reluctant to change them. In most cases business issues and potential value have not been determined. If and when researchers ask for budget, how likely is it that “no decision” outcomes will cause product evaluations to grind to a halt?
Selling has been viewed as a zero sum game. It would be in everyone’s best interest if business cases were built to make cursory attempts to determine if the potential benefit can justify the cost of offerings.
The first core concept of CustomerCentric Selling® is: Bad news early is good news. In 2002 this was from a seller’s perspective that unless buyers share business issues, sales cycles have not begun. I hope you would agree prospects would also benefit if financial cases were analyzed before spending time, effort and resources on product evaluations.