Thursday, January 21, 2010

False Buying Signals

From my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Living with Problems

I'm often asked, "What's the biggest mistake you see salespeople make?" I answer, "Whatever they do to lose the sale!"

Seriously, there is one pattern I've witnessed with clients over 13 years. They sometimes assume that a customer with a problem is a customer who is committed to acting on the problem.

I tell this story in my seminars to make this point. A client of mine presented a new product to one of his customers and the customer said, "This is great. I can't stand the product we're using. I hate it." The salesperson worked up the sale value and figured he had a pretty good opportunity in front of him. He told his manager of this newfound opportunity and the manager, knowing this customer well, said, "Don't get too excited. The guy you called on has hated the product he uses for 10 years."

One of two things is likely going on:
-- The person who hates the product has no authority to change; or
-- He has no personal motivation to change that overrides his hating the product.

For example, if the new product costs twice as much as the product he hates he might choose to live with the problem and save money. Or, it could be a big hassle to change even to a better performing product and he concludes that right now the better performance is not worth the hassle to get it.

The salesperson's mistake is in thinking that "hates product" equals "committed to change." Fundamental to this story is the salesperson really doesn't know what the problem is.

If you or your salespeople stumble like my client did just remember that it isn't a problem until the customer says it is, and often there's more to the problem that they need to learn. Also, someone has to authorize making a change. The person who hates the product has to live with it if he's not the one authorized.

Source: Marketing consultant Mark Sellers (

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