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Provocation-based selling: proving pain does not close a sale
Guest articles > Provocation-based selling: proving pain does not close a sale
by: Sharon Drew Morgen
A friend sent me the Harvard Business Review article written by my hero Geoffrey Moore and two of his colleagues – Todd Hewlin and Philip Lay - titled “In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers.”
REALLY? BUYERS BUY BECAUSE THEY ARE IN PAIN? REALLY?
I found the article ruefully humorous. Here are some of the smartest business minds in the country who have fallen victim to the conventional hype that buyers must discover their pain in order to be ready to buy. Indeed, in this article they suggest that you provoke them into buying: “Provocation-based selling helps customers see their competitive challenges in a new light that makes addressing specific painful problems unmistakenly urgent.”
How silly. This goes back to the age-old pain-principle. According to the authors, if a vendor can identify a process critical for the buyer in the current environment (and this assumes the buyer hasn’t figured this out) and developed a ‘compelling point of view on how it was broken and what it meant in terms of cost, and then connected the problem to the solution’ then the buyer will be provoked into a purchase.
Haven’t we been doing this for decades? And our success rate has been….. 7%.
SALES TREATS A PROBLEM AS IF IT WERE AN ISOLATED EVENT
Think about this for a moment. Targeting pain as the reason to make a sale assumes that:
the buyer or company doesn’t recognize the severity of the problem they have;
If I provoked you, could I get you to go to the gym more? I can certainly make a case for it. What about changing your hairstyle? Can I provoke you into changing your selling style?
CAN I PROVOKE YOU INTO LEARNING BUYING FACILITATION(TM)?
I can make an amazing case for you to be using Buying Facilitation™! Indeed – I can triple your sales, halve your sales cycle, and get rid of all objections. I really can (lots of testimonials). Soooo can I provoke you? Can I show you numbers that you’re not tracking? Oh. I’ve done that. Can I explain how managing the buying decision journey will turn leads into prospects on the first call, and teach them how to close a couple of calls later, with no meetings, proposals, or appointments? Oh. I”ve done that. Geesh. Haven’t I provoked you enough… and you’re not buying?
Please. Continuing to focus the sales effort on different ways to get a buyer to take action, rather than add the capability of assisting them in managing their entire pre-sales buying journey, makes no sense. A purchase is not an isolated situation, but demands a systemic approach to change management.
We all know that the sales model is horribly broken, and yields very poor results. Why keep finding ways to push harder and harder? The definition of insanity is….. And we all know systems theory: every system will maintain its status quo (homeostasis) until or unless the system knows how to shift without disruption and will easily incorporate the change. Hence the failure of sales.
Stop trying to provoke, push, get an appointment, understand needs, be in relationship, get in the door or to the top, be an advisor, be a consultant – all of that is just a Trojan Horse to make a sale. Be a real consultant. Put on a GPS hat and be the lead dog in helping your prospect manage their change issues first so they get buy-in from the Buying Decision Team. Then there is no need to be provocative.
Check out Sharon Drew Morgen's new book: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.
Or consider purchasing the bundle: Dirty Little Secrets plus my last book Buying Facilitation®: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. These books were written to be read together, as they offer the full complement of concepts to help you learn and understand Buying Facilitation® - the new skill set that gives you the ability to lead buyers through their buying decisions.
Contributor: Sharon Drew Morgen
Published here on: 13-Nov-11