By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

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In my mind, the most important core concept of CustomerCentric Selling® is: No goal, no prospect. As a practical matter it means buying cycles do not begin until a buyer has shared a goal (or a problem) they are willing to spend money to achieve (or address). Getting to this point is NOT a slam-dunk. Most Key Players will not share goals unless or until they’ve concluded a seller is sincere and competent.

There are times when sellers must drill down to get to the point where a goal or a problem has been shared. Assume a VP Sales has said that his or her sellers have trouble positioning offerings. Does this mean a buying cycle has begun? My answer would be NO because a Key Player should be willing to spend money to achieve the stated goal or address the stated problem.

Here’s an instance where the selling may want to drill down in having a further dialog:

Seller: What is the impact when sellers struggle to position offerings?

Buyer: Sellers aren’t as effective as they should be.

Seller: What’s the result when sellers are ineffective?

Buyer: Potential sales are lost. 

At this point or somewhat later, quantification of the magnitude of the revenue loss can be done, but until the seller got the issue clarified, a buying cycle had not begun.

As a sanity check I suggest sellers imagine the potential buyer (in this case a VP Sales) going to the CFO and asking for the money needed to buy the offering they are considering. Expect that the CFO will ask why money should be spent. In the scenario above the two potential answers are:

1. My salespeople struggle to position offerings.

2. Salespeople are losing sales because they don’t properly position our offerings.

I hope you would agree the second response gives a much better chance of a good outcome. Quantifying the revenue lost would further improve the odds of a favorable response.

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