There are 3 selling environments – that’s it.
- The prospect knows they have a problem and knows what they need to solve it.
- The prospect knows they have a problem but doesn’t know how to solve it.
- The prospect doesn’t know they have a problem and therefore they don’t know anything needs to be solved
I think number one is the most difficult environment to sell in. I talked about number one a little while back. You can read it here.
I love selling in #2. Number 2 is fun because the prospect has accepted there is a problem. The prospect is feeling pain. They’ve acknowledged the pain. Their current environment isn’t OK and in most cases they are looking to do something about it, but don’t know where to turn. A prospect in an environment where they know they have a problem but don’t know how to solve it is open to information. The prospect is looking for help — for people, (sales people) to provide direction, support and information. They allow themselves to rely on sales people for direction and help.
To sell in this environment information and expertise are key. The prospect is looking for expertise and knowledge to help solve their problem and feel good about their choices. In this environment prospects have accepted they need help. They are looking for people, ideas, companies and information that can improve their situation. The sales person or consultant that provides the most believable and logical information or solution is in the front seat.
When selling in this environment dig — dig deep. Find out how the problem is affecting the prospect. Ask how they came to notice it was a problem. Look to understand the cost. Look to highlight more issues or challenges the prospect didn’t see as part of their existing problem. Once you’ve broken down the problem every other interaction and conversation should focus on the benefits of your solution and how it will solve the prospects problems. Build use cases outlining each sub-problem and how your solution solves them. Also, be prepared to demonstrate how your solution solves problems currently not recognized or seen. Show extended value.
When a prospect knows they have a problem but doesn’t know how to solve it, they are looking for a consultant. They are looking for a partner they can trust to teach them what they don’t know. The best way to deliver in this environment is to have more information than everyone else and to be a teacher. Educating a prospect in this situation is exactly the required tonic. Information and expertise is what the prospect is lacking. They are stuck and will attach themselves to the person, company, solution they believe will best get them “unstuck.”
This environment is the best and most collaborative environment to sell in. You have an open customer, ready and willing to listen. You just need to give them something worth listening to.