Good Tuesday to you all. I was going to share my thoughts about this blog post by Dave Kurlan, our long-time partner in the sales assessment business. However, as I read and reread it, I thought it was better if you consumed the post in its entirety to get the point. I invite you to consider how you “show up” to your sales conversations. Do you miss steps, as Dave missed the step at the ball game? Or do you follow your process from start to finish? What is the experience your prospects and clients have of your interactions? Take an honest look at the 13 points and see what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Happy Selling, Mary Anne
Use Music to Understand the 12 Criteria Prospects Use to Buy from Salespeople¹
Yesterday, while watching our son play in a summer collegiate baseball game, I missed a step and tumbled all the way down the bleachers. Isn’t that a great analogy for what happens when you miss, or skip a crucial step in the sales process? More than half of all salespeople are missing and skipping important milestones in the sales process each and every day and their egos get more bruised from failing to close those opportunities than my body got bruised from my not so thrilling adventure to the ground.
But that’s not my primary analogy for today’s article because a better, more profound analogy came from listening to music.
I like Pop and Rock from the 60s, 70’s, 80’s, modern Country (Mr Saturday Night), Smooth Jazz, Big Band swing, some Classical, some R & B (Givin’ it Up for Your Love), a little Disco (Night Fever), a bit of modified Hip-Hop (Dynamite) and even some A Cappella (VoicePlay). This fairly wide swath of genres got me wondering about the common thread that causes me to love — really LOVE a song so much that I want to keep playing it — even after 50 years!
It will likely require a complicated algorithm, or even AI, to totally unwrap this, but while we all like catchy melodies, for me it involves the rhythm section, a prominent, walking bass guitar, great chord changes, key changes, great arrangements, and in lieu of those, rich harmonies. Lyrics rarely impact my decisions (except Popsicle Toes).
Why is this important and what does this have to do with selling?
Your prospects and customers use a similar process for choosing who to buy from. They don’t care whether you can sing or play a musical instrument, but they care very much about these twelve qualities:
- The conversations you have with them
- How well you differentiate yourself and your company
- The questions you ask
- Fresh perspectives
- Whether you care more about the sale or helping them
- If you help them determine what they really need instead of what they think they need
- How easy you make it for them
- How easy it will be for them to sell you and/or your solution internally
- If they will be able to justify your pricing (different from whether you can justify your pricing)
- If they like you (liking you alone is not enough to buy from you, but it’s a deal-breaker if they don’t)
- If they find you easy to work with
- If you bring them value
- If they trust you (Bonus criteria — perhaps the most important of the group)
One of the milestones in the Qualification stage is uncovering your prospect’s process and criteria for making a decision. Process represents the steps they and/or their team must complete to reach a decision. Things like collect five proposals, narrow the field to three, meet with the vendors, have them present, make a selection. Criteria represents the specific requirements for them to choose you and three of those will always be connection related. If they like you, find you easy to work with, and you bring them value.
The way a prospect chooses a vendor, partner, resource, supplier, or advisor is the same — exactly the same — as how you determine whether or not you love a song (demonstrated in the song, Play it Again), versus a song you simply don’t mind listening to. However, your criteria for loving a song is not something that you consciously think about, it just happens and much like song selection, your prospects don’t think about whether or not they love you. That’s why it’s so important to draw that out. ‘What is the criteria?’ may come out of your mouth sounding like, “How will you decide who to choose?” or “Why would you choose me?” or “What are the most important factors that go into who you’re going to choose?”
The best part of including selection criteria into your sales process is that many prospects don’t know the answer to this question. You might hear them say, “I don’t know” or “I haven’t really thought about it.” That gives you a chance to ask, “Can I help?” and if they say, ‘sure’ then you can begin to ask questions like, “is experience in similar applications important?” Think about all of the questions you might include here that will help differentiate you. But don’t stop there, ask, “Why is that important?” You’ll be helping them compose an internal spec sheet that directs them to choosing you!
What is the common thread to the music you like the most?
¹ Kurlan, Dave. “Use Music to Understand the 12 Criteria Prospects Use to Buy from Salespeople.” Kurlan & Associates, Inc., June 12, 2023, https://www.kurlanassociates.com/understanding-the-sales-force/2023/use-music-to-understand-the-12-criteria-prospects-use-to-buy-from-salespeople/.