The customer in buying mode will tell us how to sell the deal. Once s/he's decided who to buy from it's really a question of following her lead. In the third of the three emotional states the prospect coaches us. Our challenge is making sure we don't mess up, losing the deal and the prospect forever. The Buying Customer has made the emotional decision to buy from us. We disappoint him at our peril.
In other chapters we outlined the various emotional states the prospect goes through during the sales process - see Ask the hard questions early and Make sure the customer understands what's in it for you. In this article we're describing the sales guys job when the prospect enters buying mode. But lets review the three emotional phases the prospect moves through.
During the early exchanges the prospect may be very open with information, helping us to understand how we can put forward our best offer. Questions regarding budget, decision process, his view of our strengths and weaknesses, relative to the competition will answered directly. In this phase the prospect is in charge and won't feel threatened by our process and the way we deliver our proposition.
As the number of potential suppliers reduces, through shortlisting perhaps, the prospect and his colleagues start to prefer one or more vendors over the others. The decision hasn't yet been made and there won't be a consensus among those who influence it. They will however start to promote the strengths of their favored supplier to their colleagues.
During this middle phase the prospect may be very guarded in what he says to sellers. He won't want to openly support a selection his colleagues aren't happy with, and he certainly won't want to prejudice the best offers he can get for his business. Any questions or requests for guidance are likely to be rejected.
If we've done our job properly - understanding both the business and personal requirements, presenting a credible proposal, incorporating return on investment and risk mitigation - the prospect and some of his colleagues will begin to favor our offer, moving into the third emotional state - coaching us to win. They've moved to buying customer.
In this third state the prospect will move to offering us information we didn't have before, without us asking for it. He'll be guiding us towards weaknesses in our proposal, competitor strengths we haven't matched and people we haven't yet convinced. He'll be coaching us.
Of course this is really good news, but we haven't won the business yet. In this phase we have to be particularly supportive of our coach, make sure we don't embarrass him in some way, and follow his direction.
Every sales process should recognise three emotional states and accommodate the progression from open investigator, through guarded evaluator to buying customer.Link to original post