Closing Challenges & The Buyer Engagement Process

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					SLiA Group
             Sales Leadership in Action Group

 Closing Challenges & The Buyer
 Engagement Process
Executive Summary:

Buyers are savvy. A buyer’s purchase process and tactics present a number of closing
challenges for sales reps. Sales reps that understand buyer tactics and negotiation methods
are in a better position to implement the buyer engagement process.

                Bottom Line & Business Impact:
                Reps that understand the buyer engagement process know when buyers are using
                tactics to leverage their position to their advantage. They will not be forced to
                prematurely concede to a buyer’s demands, and will ensure that the close is part of
                the natural progression of an effectively negotiated deal.

           © 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                            Page 1
                  The “No Close” Close
                  Closing is the end goal for sales reps. The close should never be forced. It should also
                  never be a surprise. The best form of closing is not having to close at all. Closing is the
                  natural progression of an effective and interactive buyer engagement process. It is derived
                  from a rep being aware of, and properly aligned to, the buyer’s purchase process as it
Lay of the Land

                  makes its way through the sales process. While being aligned is important, it is not

                  Reps must also be aware of the buyer’s purchasing ability and tactics:

                     • Informed Buyers
                     • Buyer Purchasing Tactics
                     • Buyer Negotiation Tactics

                  Informed Buyers
                  Many reps make a fatal assumption. Reps assume that buyers do not have a purchase
                  process. Buyers have learned and been taught to buy just as sales reps have been taught to
                  sell. Buyers spend just as much time training, attending coaching sessions, and working on
                  their skills as rep do. While larger buying organizations may spend more time and money
                  on formally developing their buyers, smaller companies also focus on the buying process.
                  Every dollar counts in these organizations, and they work hard to ensure they can get the
                  most out of the deals they agree to.

                  Informed buyers have their own pressures, concerns, and needs to attend to:

                     • Buyers are under constant pressure to get the best deal for the solutions offered by
                       competing reps; buyers must get more for less.
                     • Buyers have a specific purchase process to follow.
                     • Buyers must be concerned about the solution they choose.
                           o Buyers have specific needs that must be met.
                           o Buyers need to make sure their business needs are met.
                           o Reps have to offer the correct fit for a buyer’s organization.
                           o Reps must ensure they take into consideration the buyer’s personal needs.
                           o If a buyer selects the wrong solution, time and resources will be wasted.

                  Buyer Purchasing Tactics
                  Just like sales reps have a number of sales tactics and approaches to resort to during the
                  sales process, buyers have a number of purchasing tactics:

                     • Buyers have multiple suppliers: Buyers will make it appear as though reps are the
                       only supplier they have under consideration. The reality is buyers have a number of
                       supply options available and they will seek the possible solutions with each rep and

                     • Know what they want to accomplish: Buyers perform pre planning just as rep do
                       before a sales call. Buyers know exactly what they want to accomplish during their
                       interaction with reps. Buyers know exactly how much they are willing to pay, and what
                       they are willing to concede from suppliers for the right solution for their situation.

                     © 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                             Page 2
   • The nature of the bid: Depending on the nature of the bid, buyers can either create a
     very competitive head-to-head environment, or a less common isolated approach
          o Buyers put reps head to head to initiate a price war
                A price war often forces reps to concede more to buyers to secure the
          o Buyers isolate vendors for maximum buyer benefit
                This keeps reps feeling that they are the number one option and that
                    they are always readily available.
                Reps will always feel the buyer is fully engaged in the sales process.
                The buyer never lets reps know how they measure up. This makes it
                    difficult for reps to determine how they measure up to the competition.
                Reps must think about who is involved. If a deal seems to be too good
                    to be true, then it usually is.

Sales reps that use the buyer engagement process are more likely to overcome these
tactics due to their focus on:

   • Buyer’s perspective
   • Building trust
   • Alignment
   • Creation of a win/win environment

Buyer Negotiation Tactics
Reps must be aware of the buyer’s negotiating tactics. Reps that can quickly identify these
tactics will be able to fight through them, maintain their alignment with the buyer, and
build the deals momentum further. There are three major negotiating tactics that all reps
should be aware of:

• Competitor tactics: Buyers will bait reps by communicating that they are going to do
  business with a competing vendor.

• Price tactics: Buyers use competitor pricing information to negotiate with reps
  individually to get the best possible price for the solutions being offered.

• Feature tactics: Buyers feature-drop competitor’s solutions when speaking to sales rep’s
  in hopes of obtaining a greater number of features for the same price.

• Timeline tactics: Buyers know that reps have a timeline to meet targets and close deals
  (end of month, quarter, year, etc). If a buyer knows a rep is coming close to a deadline,
  they will try and leverage this to their advantage.

While these tactics can become stressful and distracting, sales reps must always
differentiate themselves, and circle back to the value of their solution based on the buyer’s
needs and business objectives.

   © 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                              Page 3
                Putting into Practice
                Creating a Win/Win Environment
                The Fundamentals of the Buyer Engagement Approach
                The Buyer Engagement Approach
                Buyer’s Commitment to Action
                Closing Challenges & The Buyer Engagement Process
                Don’t Give without Getting

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© 2010 SLiA Group Inc.,                                                                  Page 4