Remove sales obstacles and accelerate the sale
By Barbara Bix and Melissa Josephson
textbooks preach that pain sells. The quickest way to make a sale is
to identify customers' pain and sell the product that will solve their
But customers also have many issues that they believe are important to solve,
if not painful. How can you sell products that address problems other than pain
when the customer is addressing only painful issues? One way is to remove sales
obstacles so that customers can't pass on the opportunity to buy right away.
Then focus on giving customers exactly what they want.
Eliminating obstacles is key when your product or service is "merely" useful
or you face tough competition. Your mission, then, is to anticipate and address
customer concerns and eliminate obstacles that might prolong the buying process.
Software companies frequently use the following tactics:
proof and demonstrate ROI. Help your prospects
cost-justify their purchase. Develop case studies
that demonstrate and quantify how high-profile
customers have used your product or service to
increase revenue or cut costs.
the risk. Provide free demos for prospective
customers. Once prospects experience firsthand
the advantages you offer, they are more likely
to buy after the trial period.
the upfront financial commitment. Package your
product or service such that it can be bought
in installments or pieces. Get your foot in the
door and allow customers to upgrade later.
your prospect's budget. When your prospective
customers plead "no money in the budget," work
with them to identify line items in their budgets
that your product or service will help eliminate.
The ability to reduce or eliminate budgeted items
is an extremely powerful sales tool, especially
in today's restrictive budget economy.
products, features and services. Bundling eliminates
customers' need for shopping around and also
provides an easy way to sell items that customers
may not have realized they need.
Accelerating the buying cycle
Successful companies understand their customers' experiences from start to
finish. They learn to walk in their customers' footsteps. These companies identify
cracks in the delivery system and position themselves to design and implement
processes that make customers want to buy from them.
Here are three steps for accelerating the buying cycle:
the problems that customers experience when buying
products to meet customers' purchasing needs
Businesses can undertake a number of methods to identify problems that delay
the buying process. Common techniques include:
Hiring someone to "mystery shop" your organization and report on their experiences
and the roadblocks they encounter.
Observing a customer attempting to complete such tasks as placing an order
or logging a complaint. Note the number of steps, the time necessary to complete
the task, and the customer's reaction.
Have open-ended discussions with your customers. What do customers like about
your purchasing process? What don't they like? How can you change your processes
to meet their needs?
Successful companies include their customers in the design process. Ask for
their feedback. Look at your internal processes from the customers' perspectives.
Solicit feedback from all departments that the customer touches, such as sales,
marketing, operations and customer service. Investigate what your competition
is offering. Include customers and representatives from each department to
Successful companies assign an owner responsible for ensuring a positive customer
experience. The owner is responsible for implementing processes, systems and
teams that track and resolve customer concerns, including:
employees to listen for customer concerns
staff to correct problems as they arise
feedback and analyzing data on an ongoing basis
to refine a nd test the products in place.
Do you know where all of your business comes from? Do you have win-loss reporting
systems in place to explain what made or broke the deal? Do you follow up with
customers to check on their satisfaction and remind them of how your products
and services meet their needs? Are your systems and processes integrated so
that anything that you learn about your customer in one area is immediately
implemented everywhere else?
You can accelerate your customers' buying cycle and enable them to focus on
important in addition to painful issues
simply by making it easier for them to purchase your products and service.