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Why Sellers Don't Close: How Sales Creates Its Own Failure


Guest articles > Why Sellers Don't Close


by: Sharon Drew Morgen

A new client recently complained that his prospects “understand and accept the value of our product”, but still don't buy. I asked him how he knew that to be true. He told me that his sales people have a list of questions they ask the prospect, like: "Are you aware that your business would do X if you purchased our product?" Because they answer ‘yes', he assumes that means they understand what they are being offered, and refuse anyway.

I also spoke with another prospect who told me that as part of a sale, his sales team sell advertising for the prospect, to help the prospect defray the cost of the product. Does this help bring in sales? No. Sometimes the prospect takes the advertising and still doesn't buy. In fact, these sellers spend 1/3 of their time selling ads for prospects rather than finding prospects who are ready to buy.

What is going on above? Do they sound like different stories to you? They aren't.

The focus on selling

For some reason, sellers believe that 1. a sale progresses because they have a great product, 2. because they give great service that differentiates them from their competitors, or 3. because they've gotten the prospect to buy-in to the “value proposition”.

I'm going to harp on the same tune I've been singing for years, folks. It's not about the product, it's not about how much you care or how professional you are, it's not about what the prospect needs, it's not even about a problem the prospect needs resolved. Gosh – if it were only that simple we'd all be retired by now.

When it appears to you that buyers “understand and accept the value of your product,” they are paying lip service to what you're telling them. Do they believe what you tell them about your product? Sure. So what? If I describe this wonderful green wig that I have here, explain the brilliant design, explain how it would enhance your looks, would you believe me? Sure. So what? What does that have to do with you?

And, if I spent days calling local wig and beauty shops to make sure that when you purchased the wig you'd have it maintained properly, and give you data on how best to care for your wig, or how to manage your real hair while wearing a wig, would you mind if I did that for you? Of course not. Would it make you buy my wig? Who knows. But probably not.

Are your baseline beliefs:

  1. That the only way to differentiate is to give great service?
  2. That presenting the value of the product translates to a closed sale?
  3. That by uncovering an unmet need that a prospect would buy?

Do you talk about:

  1. Wanting to place product only if the buyer needs it?
  2. Doing everything you can to make sure the buyer has a real need?
  3. Proving that your product makes your clients more effecient
  4. Creating a need that you can fulfill?

If you do any of the above, you continue to think that the sale is about you.

It's not about you, the product or the need

But it's not about you at all. And it's not about the prospect's need or your product. It's about the range of decisions that buyers need to address before doing anything different (i.e. bring in a new product/service, have employees make a change, use budget, etc.). They can need your product, want your product, appreciate you and your product, and have money for your product, and still not buy it.

Buyers live in a system. Buyers can only bring in something new to an established culture or environment when everything involved in the status quo – the beliefs, relationships, initiatives, partnerships etc. – are willing to cope with unfamiliar and unimaginable change. And without buy-in from everyone involved, the internal elements will fall apart.

Let's go back to the green wig analogy, and let's say you were talked into buying a wig. You go home to your spouse, or your gaggle of friends that care about you. Let's say you let the seller convince you that your hair color and style didn't suit you and that the green wig gave you just what you always wanted: a slim physique, a young face, and sex appeal (Come on, we all want that!). Your spouse looks at you says, “What the hell is THAT on your head?” Or worse, bursts out laughing. Your friends say, “Cool. Now we have our own tree”. Then you go to your closet and notice an abundance of red shirts – making you look like a Christmas ornament next to the red wig. And, if you're a woman, you have drawers full of makeup that are predicated on you being dark haired, so you'd have to go out and get another set of makeup.

Buy-in necessary

Are you getting the point here? Even in a simple situation, there is a whole culture in place that has created and maintained the status quo. In order to make a change, the elements that are in place need to be addressed somehow in order to make room for change and to continue their lifecycle comfortably with the new piece integrated.

If I were going to consider buying a green wig, I'd first have to have a conversation with my spouse about changing my hair color, and changing it to something a bit, um, different. We'd go around that one for a day or two and reach a decision. Then I might call my friends and warn them and get their buy in – make a green party or something. I'd have to go through my clothes to see if I were willing to purchase new ones. Etc. etc.

It's not about the wig. And it's not about your product.

Stop trying to manipulate the sale. Spend your time helping your buyers recognize and align all of the internal elements that need to be addressed so they can make a new decision to add a new piece to their already overwhelmed puzzle. Then you'll know how to truly support them and how to position the product once it's time to pitch. You won't have to over-give in order to prove you give good service because you'll have taken the buyer through their buying process and given the service by the time you present or pitch. And you'll certainly be differentiated from the competition.


Contributor: Sharon Drew Morgen

Published here on: 11-Apr-06

Classification: Sales



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