There is a story told about a Texas oilman who’s well caught fire, and he couldn’t put it out. He issued an all-points bulletin to every fire department within range for assistance, and included a $30,000 reward for putting out the blaze. Every firehouse from all the surrounding communities sent help; however, not one of their trucks could get within 200 yards because the heat was just too intense.
Finally, the Calcutta Township Volunteer Fire Department appeared on the scene with their one and only rickety truck equipped with a single ladder, two buckets of water, three buckets of sand, and a pile of blankets. When that old truck reached the point where all those other fire companies had stopped, the driver didn’t even hesitate. He kept barreling ahead until he and his crew were right in the middle of the blaze. Calcutta’s volunteers leapt out of the truck; threw the two buckets of water and three buckets of sand on the inferno, then beat the fire out with the blankets.
The oil man was so impressed by this display of courage; he gave the driver the $30,000 in cash right on the spot and asked, “What are you and your men going to do with all that money?”
The driver replied without hesitating, “The first thing we’re going to do is get the darn brakes fixed on that old truck!”
That’s a humorous way of saying those firemen were victims of circumstances! In sales too, unpredictable things happen regularly, whether you like them or not. You’re probably thinking I’m referring to your principles of selling, but I’m really talking about their principles of buying.
At times, the multiple steps in your selling process will end up overshadowing their logic of buying, which makes it very easy to get mixed up and confused. You might even try to shortcut their process in order to speed things along, but their buying process is like the constitution, written and enforced by them. Let’s look at three articles that are part of this constitutional buying process:
Article One – Buyers control the pace of buying
You must realize and accept that when prospects buy, they are not following your selling process; they are following their own buying process.
If it’s true that the buying process is like gravity, meaning it works 100% of the time, why design everything from the seller’s perspective? Well, it certainly gives some needed structure to sales reps, but beyond that, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot to buyers.
Although you have a process, buyers control the pace, which is often an “aha” moment for you. Don’t forget the occasions, when after proposing buyers, your follow-up calls were not returned, and your frustration level went through the roof. To make matters worse, while this dance was going on, your manager was repeatedly in your ear constantly wanting to know when you would close the sale.
The newsflash here is that the buyer doesn’t return the first three calls maybe because he wasn’t yet ready to talk to you. Could it be that Ms. Prospect might not have an answer yet from her supervisor or hasn’t had time to discuss it in detail with him? It could even be that Mr. Buyer may have had a business crisis that temporarily trumps what you went there to talk about, although it is super important to you.
Think of the last presentation you made where the buyer seemed to take a long time to agree that what you were offering could resolve their problem. What seemed so obvious to you on the first visit might not have been as apparent to them. The hookup between their pain and your solution can take time, and your job is to bring the two together and create sales combustion. Although you can lead buyers to solutions, you can’t make them accept, let alone buy, because the prospect always controls the pace.
In the meantime, I’m not suggesting you just sit around and wait for the buyer to call you, but rather do the things that will cause them to call you first when they are ready, such as touch them by sending web links of interest or offering online case studies. It wouldn’t hurt to offer suggestions via testimonials, from other buyers experiencing similar pain that you have helped within the same market segment. Regardless what you do in the interim, be an honest broker and show concern over what’s best for them.
In Part II of this post, we will investigate the other two articles of the buyer’s constitution.
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