Ever heard the saying, “being able to sell ice cubes to the Eskimos?“ Typically this line is used to describe an outstanding salesperson, far above average, who can sell anything to anybody. Really? Selling against the Status Quo is the biggest challenge in modern prospecting!
There are a few good reasons why people are successful in sales. Mainly they have charisma, are quick thinkers and great in handling objections. But in today‘s society, the biggest challenge in B2B sales is the status quo!
The status quo describes the situation when the prospect is happy with what he has. The prospect is happy with the current supplier; the company is satisfied with what they have got. They see no reason to change a running system.
In this situation, you don‘t compete against a competitor but the status quo. Where prospects see no need to have a „need“ in the first place, it ‘s hard to argue the benefit.
So how do you deal with that?
Ask the right questions to the right person!
When your prospect bought their now existing solution, what were the reasons for selecting the one in particular? Which benefits were most significant at that time, does it still match their true need? Who made the purchasing decision? What are flaws and problems? Most importantly, when was it purchased, and why? Speak to the people using their current solution to find out more about the status quo. What are you up against?
Define your value proposition
To overcome the obvious, you need to define your value proposition. It is not about what YOU think might be the USP. It is about what your product in comparison to their existing solution. What is the advantage of higher efficiency, productivity, ROI or personal status? The two fundamentals of human existence greed and fear work best in this case. A Skoda will take you from A to B; why would Tesla still sell cars? What is the added value to someone who can afford it? You may ask Al Gore, but you may also ask Gordon Gekko.
Create awareness; create a need
A few great inventions seemed doomed to succeed or to fail miserably. In 2007 Steve Ballmer was laughing at the iPhone and Apple’s ambition to run for 1% market share. Microsoft was ruling the business world, was Apple was targeting the consumer market.
In the world where everyone screams to get attention, it is difficult creating a buzz. If your marketing is not doing it for you, you have to take ownership and reach out to people yourself. If you have no invention of the like of the iPhone you need to make it happen yourself. It is your commission, your income, your life. Make people aware of the benefits in comparison to the established. Create a network of followers who will argue the case with- and for you. It is not who you know, but who knows you.
Pitch the beneficiary
In the endless strive for market share and shareholder value, every CEO is open to investigate new options. Argue your benefits at the right level, to the right people, to the real decision maker. Money doesn‘t matter as long as you can prove your case in regards to their business.
Often speaking to the purchasing department, to marketing, to IT will not have a lasting impact, as they don‘t see the benefit. Lower level managers and directors work on delivering an agreed result, while staying within their given budgets.
Upgrade the pace of your pitching
You only have one mouth and one brain, and when selling directly and in person, you can only sell to as many as there are people in your sales meeting. How do you increase your efficiency? Give presentations in country clubs (where CEOs hang out on Thursday or Friday evenings), in association meetings, at the chamber of commerce, or at conferences. Be careful though; not all conferences get attended by board members. Argue your benefits in regards to their businesses, don‘t just push your products.
If you can‘t deliver presentations (maybe you live in a different country or continent than your prospects), make use of the greatest sales weapon invented — the telephone. Develop your strategy to reach the C-level, ask the right questions, and position the benefits according to their business. You can reach out to some companies in just one day, quickly sort out the good from the bad prospects.
But be aware — building long-lasting relationships will help you sell in the long term. Don‘t push too hard, build relationships on the way. Collect testimonials and references. Build your network, build your personal brand.
Become a sales rock star! Everything can be sold; you just have to find the right angle and the right strategy.