Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

Selling the Intangible






Would a customer actually buy a product or a service that’s more expensive than what you’re proposing?

You bet.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it before. Your prospect is looking at several options. You think, “How can they pick anyone other than us? Not only are we the low price, but our product exceeds the specifications they asked for.”

Yet, we lost. They bought the second highest price.

Why? What is the customer thinking?

Now is when you realize that during a sales cycle, you’re lucky to be in front of the customer maybe 10% of the time, at best. The other 90% of the time your decision maker is busy deliberating what’s the best solution for their company, not to mention handling a thousand other duties.

But when they are analyzing their options, what are the variables, the considerations? A lot of intangibles that you may never see or hear about.

Your approach to the customer is generally based on what you know. The tangibles: the specifications, the return on investment, the impact on the organization, measuring increased productivity and decreasing operational costs. As sellers, we are most comfortable with the tangibles and specifics.

But what about the intangibles that we don’t see? Does our competition know something that we don’t? Do they have a relationship that we might not? Maybe an inside champion? Are politics involved? Who is the real decision maker? Or is the personality style of the prospect more in tune with a style other than your own?

Uncovering the intangibles in a sales opportunity is one of the bigger challenges sellers face. One way to do that is to cultivate a champion, someone who will share with you the political landscape in the organization, the power and who is pushing a hidden agenda. This type of relationship trumps everything else.

Selling is never black and white. It’s always grey. Every sales opportunity is different because the human equation comes into play. Different personalities, different needs and agendas and different motives. The intangibles at play in any sales situation are maybe the greyest of all. It’s a bit like a puzzle, and that’s what makes the profession of selling so exciting.

There are a few questions you can ask that may uncover some of the intangibles playing behind the scenes. Answers to these questions can start a conversation that will give you deeper insight into the psychographics of how the company makes decisions and operates.

Questions to ask that can lead to the intangibles:

  • What are the potential hidden issues behind the scene that might make selecting the best solution a challenge?
  • What hurdles might you face internally in selecting the solution of your choice?
  • What political issues might you face when internally selling our solution?
  • Are there possible roadblocks that we need to know about? How would you coach us in supporting you?

If you have an advocate or champion, it can give you a huge advantage as to the hidden issues or intangibles that might come into play as they start evaluating the solutions. Realize that your advocate wants you to look good and, THEY want to look good for choosing you.

Again…see why sales is such an exciting career. It’s like a game of chess. You know your moves, but they will change every time the customer makes theirs.

Take a moment to imagine the impact if someone was whispering in your ear with details on the next move the customer was going to make. Makes you want to create champions in each company where you do business, doesn’t it?

Good selling!
Stu


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