Have you ever perfectly pitched your product, complete with facts and figures backing up each point, only to realize that your audience has no decision making power, and that you are no closer to making a sale? What a waste!
The negotiation table is a little more crowded than it used to be. The golden days of 1 or 2 decision makers are long gone. We’ve officially entered the era of the decision maker buying group. These decision maker groups are usually made up of about 5.4 people, (5 fully caffeinated people and one who hasn’t quite woken up yet).
Selling to a small committee is a bit trickier than 1:1 encounters and lowers the likelihood of closing a sale from 81% to 55%.
Clearly, we need a new strategy. Luckily, the authors of “The Challenger Sales” come through for us again with “The Challenger Customer”, which focuses on identifying the hidden influencers to seal the deal.
How to sell your product to a decision making group:
1. Identify the influencers, or “Mobilizers” within the buying group.
3 Types of Mobilizers
Marked by a thirst for improvement, Go-Getters thrive on data, turning the most ambiguous idea into an ordered plan. They can tell you step-by-step how to do something, but often lack the insight to tell you if it should be done.
Mobilizer #2: The Teacher
Teachers are dreamers who like big ideas. They become emotionally attached to ideas and try to persuade others to agree with them. They recognize a great idea when they see it, but often lack the skills to plan and execute it.
Skeptics lie somewhere in between. They will only sign on for a change in direction if they are shown evidence that it is the best plan. Getting a hard won nod from the Skeptics signals a huge vote of confidence to the rest of the organization. However, Skeptics require perfection in every detail before moving forward. This can cause delays and headaches.
Nick Toman, coauthor of The Challenger Customer, actually prefers working with skeptics: “...the best reaction I can get from a stakeholder is someone who's engaging at a very deep level, at a skeptical level, really pushing back on the idea because they're exploring it.”
2. Understand and break their beliefs.
Try to understand why Mobilizers think the way that they do. How do they perceive the world? What events formed their thinking? You’ll never change a customer’s behavior without changing their thinking and you can’t change their thinking until you understand why they think the way that they do. The change comes in knowing where they are coming from and showing them evidence that they must change.
This is not the time to sell them on your particular solution. The goal here is to convince them to change. Coach them, using the Commercial Insights you’ve acquired. Get them to realize change would not only be beneficial. It is crucial.
3. Customize an approach for each Mobilizer according to their personality type.
Go-Getter Best Approach: Using hard facts and data, present an actionable insight to the Go-Getter and ask them to help you make a plan that fits the needs of the organization. Give the go-getter a story to tell the rest of the decision makers.
Teacher Best Approach: Present a great idea to a Teacher, and help to plan the strategy. Teachers are natural debaters who will try to get everyone to agree with them. Use specifics to ensure that you are not making bigger promises than your solution will deliver. Assist them in making a detailed plan to get to the goal.
Skeptic Best Approach: Patiently work through a plan for change. Numbers don’t lie, so use data to illustrate that the steps will work. Make a plan for mishaps.
4. Equip each Mobilizer with the information to drive buying consensus with the other decision makers.
Each Mobilizer must be ready to share relevant information with the other members of the buying group.
5. Get the decision makers to work together with Collective Learning
In Challenger Sales, “Collective Learning” refers to a group’s ability to overcome their natural disconnects and learn together. Learning together becomes easier if the group is working toward a common goal, and everyone feels heard and understood. Even the most dysfunctional buying group can be anchored around a mutual goal.
Collective Learning involves these behaviors:
• Explore all concerns across the buying group - each member of the buying group must listen to the needs and issues of the other members, even those with competing agendas.
• Consider competing ideas - each member of the buying group must be open to new ideas, even those in direct competition with theirs. The concern should be what is best for the company.
• Probing for overlooked interdependencies - explore even the most subtle effects that actions have on the rest of the organization.
• Banding together as one - after all issues and concerns are addressed, all members must band together as one, even if the decision outcome is not what they desired.
The buying process has evolved into a group effort, and a new approach is needed. One must be prepared to identify and target the mobilizers who will influence the group, then be prepared to deal with the group’s different agendas while speaking to why your solution is the best for each. While this is not the easiest task, it’s one that will help you see more profitability this next year.