Sell Impact or Don’t Sell at All

Negotiation Example: Seeing K&R’s ViO™ Formula in Action

At our BrightTALK Sales Expert webinar last month, I spoke about Six Ways to Shorten the Sales Cycle – you can listen to the replay hereOne of my key strategies is to make sure that you always sell solutions that impact the customer’s business.  Unfortunately, in the rush to close, sellers often forget that.

It’s not enough that you know/feel that you are going to have a positive impact – your prospect or customer must also accept this premise. The more the prospect believes that your solution lines up with their company’s own business objectives, the more likely you are to get a positive response to your sales efforts. In fact, the goal is to gain so much alignment that the entire process seems more like a successful facilitation towards a mutually-desired conclusion, and less like a hard sales pitch.

As an example of what not to do: Before engaging with K&R Negotiations – our client delivered a proof of concept (POC) to five different business units of the same company. Time and again, their prospect told them how impressed they were by how well the solution worked, and how much they liked it. Yet, the deal did not happen. Why you ask? Simply that the seller did not gain agreement from the prospect as to the desired business impact.

You can probably relate your own sad tales about how many sales reps (trained by sales managers who should know better) approach the sale as a solution hunting for a problem to be solved. We all get these calls where the sales rep immediately starts spouting the virtues of his or her product or service and how it will solve everything from peace to world hunger. And all this before showing any understanding of our business challenges and how their solution can assist us to fulfill our specific objectives. The message is “Buy from me now”, not “I’m here to serve you”.

We use the acronym ViO™ as a convenient way to show and present the value of business impact.

V = Value

i = Impact

O = Outcomes

Value is created when the measurable Impact of a business Outcome is greater than the cost to deliver that Impact. I talk about ViO in greater detail in a previous article

When you first understand the outcome the client is looking for, and demonstrate that your solution is measurably better (as defined by the client) than other potential solutions in delivering that outcome, the path to the sale is much easier. And always remember that when it comes to ViO, if the customer doesn’t know they have a problem, there is no urgency to solve it – meaning you will not get the sale.

A recent study called The High Cost of Buying Complexity from CEB (now Gartner), showed that the customer’s own expectations of the buying process are exceeded by 97%, i.e., the process takes 97% longer than expected. Interestingly, this is true whether the ultimate purchase decision is made or if the process results in no decision. You need to keep this in mind because one of the options you are selling against is for the client to do nothing. In the end, if the cost and risk of your solution is not substantially less than the business impact, a no-decision will often be the outcome. None of us wants to spend twice as long on a process that ends in no-decision.

Keep this mantra in mind and boost the success of your entire sales organization: before attempting to sell the virtues of your particular product or service, always start with discovering what your prospect is looking for in terms of business impact.  When you then show how your solution delivers that impact (measurable outcomes), the sales process will be smooth and profitable. For information about the other five strategies to shorten the sales cycle, listen to our recent webinar: Six Ways to Shorten the Sales Cycle: Reduce Complexity and Increase Win Rates.