When we talk about the sales person/customer relationship, we typically think of it in terms of a 2-person relationship – the sales person and the buyer. This paints a rather simplistic and, of course (as any sales person knows), unrealistic view of the sales landscape. Many people and factors influence the sales process. As a sales person, it’s critical to have an awareness of what and who these influencers are and how they can impact your success. This awareness can help you anticipate and overcome challenges before they become a problem, accelerate your sales cycle and significantly improve win rates.
- The DMU – It seems that rarely today is a buying decision made by just one person. Unless your customers are typically small and/or independent companies, or individuals, you’re more than likely going to have to win over, not just your buyer, but the entire Decision Making Unit (DMU). Remember that every member of the DMU will have their own separate agenda and preferences. The more you can find out about the members of the DMU and what they’re looking to achieve, the greater your chances of success.
- Your Customer’s Customers – As in the sale of a house, most sales have a chain, of sorts, to consider. Never more so than when a buying need is being driven by a very specific need within your customer’s customer. In such instances, having an understanding of your customer’s customers can help you provide a more compelling proposition and help you evaluate how likely the deal is to progress.
Looking at the wider picture, knowing who your customer’s customers are, in terms of which markets and sectors they sell into, will give you greater understanding of their business and improve their perception of you as a knowledgeable trusted advisor.
- Your Customer’s Organisation – Your customer’s organisation as a whole may well be experiencing, or about to undergo, significant change. For example; financial difficulties, a potential or imminent buyout, or a new acquisition. All of these things can impact company strategy and budgets and therefore, in turn, can impact the outcome of your deal. Whilst you cannot hope to influence these kinds of changes, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, forging strong relationships inside the company, that will allow you to keep abreast of possible and imminent changes. Secondly, ensuring you build (and clearly communicate) a significant level of value into your proposition, so that it is more likely to withstand any external changes.
- Industry Updates – Significant industry updates, which might include legislation changes and new product developments, have the potential to cause great disruption. This can be both good (providing new opportunities for you) and bad (sending existing opportunities crashing). For more on this, see my last blog ‘3 Top Tips to Gain the Competitive Advantage‘.
- Your Competitors – Understanding who your competitors are and how their proposition stacks up against your own is critical to helping you secure the deal. This includes having in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of your own products/services, versus those of your competitors. This information is fundamental when it comes to dealing with objections and negotiating. Take a look at my recent blog ‘How to Handle the Competition‘, which goes into a lot more depth on this specific subject.
- Your Company’s Sales Culture – How you approach the sales process and particularly how you negotiate will be largely dictated by the culture that exists within your team and organisation. This is likely to be further impacted by how you’re performing against your target and how close to the end of the month/year you are. It’s useful to have an awareness of how these things might influence your behaviour during the sales process. Any situation where there is added pressure applied, can lead us to make rash, or ill-considered decisions and sales, by it’s very nature, can be a high-pressured environment anyway.
- You – Last, but not least, the influence that you have the most control over. Everything about the way you interact with your customer can influence the outcome of the deal. Not limited to addressing the areas highlighted above here, you can influence deal outcomes by the way you present yourself, your levels of accountability, how well you communicate with your customer, the list is almost endless. In addition to observing general common sense when it comes to things like time-keeping and following up on commitments, tools such as MBTI, DISC and Social Styles questionnaires can help you to understand your own behaviour preferences and tendencies and also give you insight into other profile types, allowing you to more easily flex your approach to better suit your audience.
Whilst there are some factors that influence deal outcomes that you simply cannot have any control over, my key takeaway here would be that knowledge is power. Even when you cannot influence something directly, knowing that it’s likely, or going, to happen can help you position yourself more favourably. Additionally, frequently reminding yourself of those factors which you can have an influence over is good practice and ensures you don’t fall into bad habits over time.
If you’d like to find out how we can help your sales people navigate successfully through the sales process, give us a call on 01778 382733, or visit our Contact page to leave us your details.