Nick Burns from Sell More Tech here again. Today I'm going to talk about buyer behaviour, and a couple of facets of that. Often when people sell, particularly technical products, they focus on all the technical stuff - The cool algorithms or functions that it does. That's quite natural to a technical person to focus on those things.
The problem with doing that is, the audience doesn't look at that stuff first. That actually comes second. What comes first is the emotional side. You would have all heard that we've got two sides to our brain. Left brain, which is logical, and right brain, which is emotional.
If you try to sell with the logical side first by showing all these features and cool technical stuff, you're not actually guaranteed you're going to hook the end user. Unless they're a real technical person themselves who likes that sort of stuff. What you need to do is, you need to tap into the emotions of the buyer, which is the right brain.
Taking that a step further, have you ever thought about whether pain is more important to someone, or gain? In other words, avoiding something that hurts, or running towards something that's a pleasure. Again, a lot of people think you need to sell the pleasure side - What's good about this product or service and what you will benefit from it.
The reality is though that we're twice as motivated to avoid pain.
Therefore, questions like, "Tell me about your challenges", and, "What's keeping you awake at night?", just to use those two, are great questions to talk about. If you can probe in those areas, you're going to find emotional hooks around pain that you can then describe how your features, so using the left brain, will solve that pain.
By doing it that way, tapping into the emotions and particularly areas of pain, you're more likely to speed up and get the sale because you will get the buyer emotionally attached, and confident that you can solve their problem. Then you hammer the sale home with all the logical stuff that they're going to like, which I'll talk about in a future recording.
No-one in business has bottomless pockets so it is important for you to focus on the right places to put your money. The more you spread your wings, the more you will need to effectively manage your time and money,
I would suggest signing up for a free version of a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). To this day I continue to use a free CRM.
You need a CRM as it allows you to record, measure and access all sales activity. In turn, that enables you to answer fundamental questions on how to manage sales, namely:
• How many prospects do you have in play?
• What stage of the sales journey is each prospect at?
• What’s the potential value of the deals in play, if known?
• What are the most pressing sales priorities, based on these prospects?
• How effective is your selling?
In short, a CRM provides a framework to manage sales - and you don’t need to be fancy. Like all good technology, a CRM is available free on your mobile device.
Fundamentally though, whether you use a CRM or not, I have learned that every interaction is a potential sale.
One way or another, a person needs to sell something and another person needs to buy it.
The practice of selling is really all about communicating. So why not practice selling EVERY time you communicate.
Why not try communicating clean sheet style by finding out the motivations of your team.
Ask questions to understand and listen, before asking for something or telling people what you want.
So, tech enthusiast, take that passion you have for building the best technology and apply it to building the best relationships.
Next time you have a chat at the water cooler, ask questions, listen to responses and learn how you can help. Then take what you know and apply that to what you have just learned.
You might be surprised at the results you get. And don’t be surprised when you start selling more.
Technical founders and owners often make a real point of being very well prepared with a formal presentation when going to an initial sales meeting.
Through trial and error, I have learned that clean sheet selling can be a much more effective tactic.
I remember the day I went to a meeting at a major healthcare facility and arrived without my prepared presentation.
Panic set in!
Deciding to press on left me with two choices:
I chose the latter, and that meeting was the start of a new and more effective way of selling.
Clean sheet selling can seem intimidating, if you like the security that comes with being super prepared.
However, it is a very effective way of approaching that initial sales meeting, particularly if you go into it with an open mind and a willingness to learn about your audience. You need to be prepared to back yourself. You know your stuff and that means you will be able to communicate what you offer and how that could benefit your audience.
This freer approach is much more interactive and productive; a more formal product presentation runs the risk of losing people from the start.
You shouldn’t be getting into complex descriptions and demonstrations at that first meeting when you have no understanding of how and why that might be of interest to your audience.
In the case of the health care facility, we closed the sale and they became one of our closest and most successful customers. They really valued how we took that time to understand them, rather than just telling them our story with no context.
I continue to use clean sheet selling early in the sales process. And I find that it’s a highly effective tool for fast tracking sales process and creating deeper relationships with customers.
Most people I meet who have founded a tech company are wonderfully passionate about what they do. They have a real fire in their belly for what they are creating.
It is incredibly powerful. In fact, that passion and belief translates into 50% of the sale! That’s because selling is primarily an emotional process.
So how come so many struggle with closing the deal?
Sadly, technical people can often take the wrong path in how they communicate their expertise and their product or service.
One common shortcoming is that they spend too much time talking about what they know and, as a result, fail to connect with their potential buyer or audience.
Sadly, it can lead to a bizarre mismatch in perceptions, with the seller thinking they’ve knocked it out of the park with an awesome technical presentation, without realising the audience has switched off.
I am a technical founder who by default ended up selling as if my life depended on it. Through experience, I became a successful sales person who sold multi-million dollar deals.
One of the insights I’d like to share with you is that when someone says ‘that’s interesting’, it doesn’t mean they are actually ‘interested’.
It is a mistake to respond to that comment by providing more and more information on the product or service. Doing so risks leading you further away from making a sale.
It is far better to take the time to clarify what your audience likes about your solution.
Simply put, regularly pause and ask for feedback. Then discuss that feedback with the people in fornt of you.
Most of the time you will find you need to pivot or change direction on your presentation and that can be scary at first. Be confident - you know your stuff - so you can always backtrack to where you were once you’ve answered questions and continue from there.
It was great to be the keynote speaker this week at Christchurch NZ's Hi-Growth Launch Program Graduation. Having been through a previous version of that some years ago, and with an exit under my belt, I was asked to just provide some thoughts. And my theme was, thinking about it, was what these programs do, all the good work that these various bodies do to help companies grow, is it's to help companies “run the right lines.”
When you watch really good sports teams, artists, business people for that matter, they always make it look easy. They always look like they've got time. And of course, they run the right lines. And I go to a lot of sporting events and analyze the really good sports people, and they always run the right lines. And that's what I think these sort of programs do for businesses. And particularly in New Zealand, companies need to ask because there's all this great help out there for them.
I talked about my journey with the program, and there were three key takeaways for me. The first is “you don't know what you don't know”, and again, you need to ask for help. If you let the ego get in the way, you can end up making some really big mistakes, so it's actually a strength to ask for help.
Secondly, it all comes down to value. We read all the time about our value proposition, but it's exactly right. You’ve got to know what the value to your customer is and who is the customer. Often, a lot of high tech founders tend to focus on what they do in the core technology they’ve got, rather than the value it creates and for whom their value is.
Thirdly, the biggest and most important thing is about collaboration, working with people. I put a slide up that said collaboration equals multiplication. Just working with other people you can end up creating so much greater than you could ever do by yourself. And it just reinforces the power of learning.
It was a great honor to talk at this event, with 10 great companies including the company I'm mentoring, Well Health. Its going to be great to see them all continue to run the right lines in the future.
Once you've nutted out your value proposition, the tendency is to get excited (and why wouldn’t you?) and want to tell your prospects what you can offer and how good it will be for them.
Know their issues and problems
But there's a step before this and that’s to do your homework. Take the time to really understand what makes your prospects tick. What are their key business priorities? What are their most pressing needs? What major projects or developments do they have in flight? What issues or problems are they currently dealing with?
Researching companies or consumers is relatively straightforward as there are so many sources of information -websites, social media platforms, LinkedIn, your networks and don’t forget company annual reports and news items.
Show them you understand
Armed with insights from your research you are in a strong position to engage in a meaningful manner. Companies and consumers like nothing better than dealing with people who have taken the time to understand them or their business.
Make them more successful
In a B2B context once you secure a meeting with a prospective client, remember their aim is to make their business more successful. Your aim is convince them you can help them do it. Always start the meeting discussing their business and their issues and problems. Take the time to validate your assumptions and to demonstrate to them you are making the effort to get to know their business.
Now you are in a great position to pitch how your solution addresses their issues or problems and how you can make their business more successful.
In a B to C context the same principles apply. Understand the customer’s needs and issues so you get your messaging and language right, otherwise you're just going to end up shoving things down people's throats that they don't want to buy.
One of the things about buyer behavior that is often played wrong, is thinking that logical arguments and facts are the key drivers to getting people to buy.
But it's not that way at all.
Speaking from experience as a Tech Founder, I was mathematically trained, and used to go out there and show off all the formulas and the cool stuff under the covers as my primary way of selling. And it was all very logical explaining how it works and what it did.
Guess how many sales I made in those early days?
Pretty close to none.
And it took me a while to realize that the buyer doesn't actually care about that stuff. It's actually about what is emotionally important to them and it may be something totally irrelevant to our solution.
Taking that further, if you look at the research, it's actually pain that is a big driver in decsion making.
Research has proven that pain is twice as much a driver for people making decisions.
And here we are, when we are the uninitiated thinking it's all about our solution, all about the technology. “Look how cool this is.”
And not spending time to find out, "Where's the pain, and how can we fix it?"
So think about the pain.
Understand the pain.
Work out how we can help heal the pain.
Then and only then address the logic of the solution.
You’re got your business going, you’ve got momentum and are generating leads and prospects. It’s now crucial to the success of your business to manage your sales pipeline and its many moving parts effectively.
Get a CRM
The best way to do this is to think of the sales process as if you’re feeding a large funnel with lots of leads at the top, some of which you will convert into deals that drop out of the bottom. There are a number of stages along the way as leads get qualified into prospects and opportunities and then get converted into deals. To make sense of and track the sales pipe it’s a good idea to have a CRM in place. Typically these days the basic versions are free, and are accessible anytime, anywhere on any browser enabled device.
The beauty of having a CRM is it gives you visibility of the whole pipeline and provides helpful analytics and reports so you can get timely insights into conversion rates at various stages of the sales process. Not only does this give you a really good sense of what's going on, you can see where effort is needed to get more deals over the line. Other members of the team - developers, project managers and bean counters also benefit from the visibility a CRM provides as they can see what’s coming down the pipe and can plan accordingly.
Qualify it in or out
Another key component of using a CRM is it makes you more hard-nosed about qualifying opportunities as they move down the pipeline or funnel. It forces you to ask the potential customer the key question at the right time - is it a yes or is it a no. Often it’s easy to spend too much time on an opportunity optimistically hoping it will turn into a deal when the prospective customer has no intention of saying yes. Not only does this lead to disappointment, but it wastes your most valuable resource - your time, and gets in the way of chasing other deals. Sometimes you just need to move on.
So don’t be afraid to push for a no, if may be the best thing you do. Qualifying out is as important as qualifying in.