Why do I need to buy something? and will I commit the necessary resources to sustain the change?
We find that many less experienced salespeople are hooked on the solution, product brochures, demos and company presentations. At this stage in the customer buying process such things are irrelevant! Unless of course they show how other companies have tackled a similar situation and come out better.
Stage 1 in the buying process is concerned with creating momentum for change, a reason to do something different – the Why Buy?
Often the client will have a number of alternative opportunities for performance improvement but which one will they go with. We believe it is often (though not always) the one that offers greatest bang for buck and has the path of least resistance!
The challenge of Stage 1 activity is to get the prospect to the point where they accept that they are an “alcoholic”. By this I mean they must accept that they need to do something different to their current situation. Only then will they commit fully to making this change stick.
1. Help the client to identify the problem or opportunity
We use the early stages of our CeNSE© methodology to help build this understanding. Starting with the environment and market dynamics in which the organisation operates and detailing the impact this is having on performance.
Where possible highlight the relative performance to their marketplace and show where they can gain competitive advantage through change.
Consider your situation through the eyes of the customer. Understand what performance means to them and make sure that you understand the other opportunities they have. Will your solution offer better returns to any alternatives and have you together created enough of a case for change?
2. Define requirements
Once the client accepts the need for change they will look to define their desired outcomes. At this stage they may not know exactly how they might address the issue but they will build a business case for approval.
It is possible they may start to identify the potential options for improved performance and seek early information on how others have addressed the same issue. Be ready to share knowledge, experience and stories of how they might learn from others.
What others have done? What is the current benchmark performance? What does the future look like after the improvements are in place? How will they measure improvement? Who in the organisation will be effected by the new approach and how will they evaluate success?
3. Assign Resources
With a business case in hand the client will then seek approval for the project. Often more broad than one person, the buying team will often involve users, specialist advisor’s and other resources to scope out the requirements. If a salesperson is involved as an advisor at this stage this will be the best opportunity to influence needs.
The client uses the business case to gain approval for the necessary project resources, funding and budgets. They will set early expectations of a timetable to approach this buying process.
In our next post we will explore Stage 2: Solution. It is here that solutions come into the mind of the buyer!
What experiences do you have of this stage 1 activity?