I’ve long considered two important questions before talking to any customer. The first is “Why should the customer be buying a solution?” and the second is “Why should they be buying it from us?”. In recent conversations with a colleague, I realized that he had been doing an especially good job articulating the answer to a third, very important question. That question was “Why should the customer buy the solution NOW!”.
When I later thought about the conversation, I also realized I was making an implicit assumption when presenting my story. I assumed that if I provided a good enough answer to the “why buy” question, the “why buy now” answer was self evident. And while maybe that is in fact true in many cases, why leave it to chance? Let’s explore how we as SEs can best help our customers see the value in moving quickly toward our solution and removing the tendency towards procrastination.
There are two basic types of urgency, intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation will primarily be driven by your rep and involves presenting tangible purchasing incentives to close the deal faster (better price, terms, etc.). However, there may often be other external motivators such as an executive who has given your contact a certain deadline in which to implement a project.
Some questions you can use to help uncover or clarify this motivation include:
- What causes you to have an interest in our product or service?”
- Why are you looking at our solution now, instead of, say, 6 months ago?
- Is one of your potential options to just stay with the status quo?
- What happens if you end up doing nothing?
Once you understand what external factors are at play in the buy/no buy decision, you can move to evaluate intrinsic factors. These are motivations that come from the individual and are centered around the pain or opportunity that is to be solved or realized. You’re essentially figuring out how best to get your customer his/her “win”.
Some useful questions in this area include:
- How soon does your department expect you to have this done? Is there benefit to you if you can accomplish the goal much sooner?
- How much time are you spending (wasting) doing things as they are now? How much is the time we would save you worth?
- Are there other projects that you’d like to get to that are waiting for (or dependent on) this one?
Most of your follow up then emphasizes why your solution is better at getting them that payback sooner.
Never Push to Purchase
I never advocate cheesy gimmicks to entice sales, and you should be counseling junior reps against it as well. It lowers your credibility, lowers the eventual deal size, and cheapens your solution. There is a world of difference between fully articulating the benefits of acting now and high pressure sales tactics. This difference is excellently demonstrated here and is worth a read–as is some of the science behind it.
As part of Sales, we are paid based on our ability to convey a sense of urgency. As I’ve stated before, you should be plying your craft with a company where you genuinely believe in its capabilities and importance. Your job is getting your customer to feel the same way you do for the same reason.