I was sitting next to Brian, one of my client's customers. The previous day, I'd led a "Selling to Crazy-Busy Buyers" workshop at their annual sales meeting. Today, he was speaking on how to best work with people just like him.
I was delighted my client was bringing the actual "voice of the customer" into their sales meeting. That is, until I asked Brian how he liked to be approached by new salespeople. He was quick to respond - and very emphatic:
"When they call, I ask them to send me a brochure. Then, when we're ready to make a decision, if it's close to what we need, I'll invite them in to learn more."
OMG. Brian's words directly contradicted what I'd told their salespeople to do the day before. Then I realized what he was really saying was this:
"I'm a highly knowledgeable buyer who does significant due diligence before investing time with salespeople. I don't need to waste time getting updated about their latest products or services. When I need information, I'll ask for it."
So what are you supposed to do? Just wait till your prospects are ready? That doesn't work either. Here are three ideas on how to work effectively with the Brians of this world.
- Jolt them out of their complacency with the status quo. If your product or service can truly have an impact on their business, make sure you state it loud and clear. Don't hope that they'll somehow figure it out themselves. They're too busy for it.
- Show them what's possible. Often times they haven't kept up to date on how others are handling similar challenges to theirs. This is highly valuable information that can help them achieve their goals better. Again, don't pussyfoot around it. Speak up.
- Keep educating them. The only reason people buy your product or service is because it makes a difference for their business. So take your focus off of your offering and help your prospect understand the business value - through multiple contacts.
Brian meant what he said. He really truly does want you to send him a brochure. And he does want to do his own research.
But, even more so, Brian has business objective he's expected to achieve. And, if your solution can help him do this, he'll listen - even before he's ready to "make a decision." And to me, what's most amazing is how much this approach can actually shorten that time frame!