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Selling to Priorities
By John Barrows | August 12, 2013

There are plenty of great things about our products and services we can all talk about but which ones do our customers actually care about?  Unfortunately many of us show up to sales calls/meetings unprepared, with no goals or actual agenda, we ask a few basic questions and then take a hard shift into a canned pitch about our company background and entire suite of services.  The customer politely nods there head, asks for a proposal and tells us they will get back to us after they “digest” all the information.  We then follow up and send over a proposal without getting them to commit to a defined next step and we never hear from them again. Oh, I forgot to add the ten times we “touch base” and “check in” after we send the proposal. Good stuff.

There are plenty of issues that need to be addressed in that scenario (which unfortunately happens far too often) but I want to talk about the most important one – what the client actually cares about.  Let me be very clear – THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT US!  At least at first, all the client cares (and should care) about is themselves.

We need to stop going through the motions and actually listen to what they’re saying to uncover their real priorities. The individuals we’re dealing with all have a list of priorities and things they are being held accountable for. We need to uncover those and identify how our solution can help address those priorities. Even more important are the priorities of the business itself. What are the top three organizational priorities for that year?  If your solution does not support any of those three good luck selling.

For example, if the top three priorities for a company are 1) operational efficiencies, 2) employee satisfaction and 3) customer retention and your solution focuses on revenue growth then you’re not in a great position. Not that revenue growth isn’t important but if it’s not one of the top three priorities for the business that year then you’re going to have a harder time selling your solution up the chain to the ultimate decision makers.

Selling to organizational priorities is also a great way to get above the “Power Line” if you’re not already. If you’re dealing with a non-decision maker, you can ask them detailed questions about the organizational priorities and how the initiative you’re speaking about aligns with them.  If they don’t give you a good enough answer you can use that to ask for an introduction to someone (above the Power Line) who can give you the details you need to ensure your solution aligns and supports the overall direction of the business.

Lastly, when you get the priorities make sure you confirm them in writing with a simple e-mail summarizing your discussion after the call.  It’s a simple but very effective way to make sure you’re holding the client professionally accountable for what they are telling you. Priorities change, but at least if you have them confirmed in writing you have something to fall back on.  Good luck and happy selling (to priorities).

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