I was recently asked, “What is your single favorite piece of sales advice?” Here it is. Have a healthy respect and empathy for decision makers. These days decision makers are doing more than just their jobs. In the corporate world, many companies are still adjusting after going through layoffs over the last several years. Professionals lucky enough to keep their jobs are often doing the work of 2 to 3 people. What does this mean for the business owners and salespeople trying to sell to them? It’s more difficult than ever to capture prospect attention and have decision makers believe that championing a change to the status quo is time well spent. Years ago prospects might have embraced saving 10-15% on products and services in their areas of responsibility. They might have also enjoyed being a little more satisfied than they were with the vendor they had selected. Now, things are different. The amount of time it takes decision makers to unseat a current vendor is not always worth the savings or the additional satisfaction. Think about what is involved with making a change to a current vendor relationship. Sometimes it requires an RFP, sometimes internal approvals, and other times, lobbying to have co-workers on board with a switch. That’s a lot of work!
How can you still be successful selling to these people? Have empathy. Think about what life is like from their side of the desk. They have more to do than is possible to accomplish in any given day. They have initiatives that they are responsible for achieving. They want good scores on their reviews and they want to be promoted. Consider how your product or service can help decision makers achieve their personal goals in ways that their current vendors aren’t addressing. For example, let’s pretend that you are a promotion agency who wants to start a relationship with a marketing manager. Marketing managers are often reviewed and promoted on the basis of increasing revenue, market share and profit. Some agencies just execute promotions. But, if you were the agency that continually supplied ideas that helped marketers increase revenue, market share and profit, you are in a better position to be chosen because you are providing more value than the other agency.
Your homework – Pinpoint what would cause your decision makers to feel that entertaining the idea of you as a new vendor is not only a great idea but also necessity. Review how you’re communicating with your prospects and clients and be sure you are making it obvious to them that working with you will help them achieve their goals.