Getting to No

Selling complex solutions is not like selling a commodity. Your prospects have a uniqueness about them that requires you to be more thorough, and detailed in your research and presentation. They are typically organized in many silos. These silos are here to stay, so your strategy to sell to them must include the ability to create a business case that spans the organization. Too often we are dealing with personnel that can only squash your dream of selling to them. They have the authority to say, “No”, but they can’t buy from your. As you know many organizations have changed their buying patterns too:

  • Involving a finance person early and throughout the process
  • Perform extended research and expect the same from you
  • Put out an RFQ (often times written or influenced by your competition)
  • Require you to present a preliminary pricing and value hypothesis
  • Involve C-Suite personnel early and throughout the process

Our research indicates that elongated sales cycles, from delayed decisions are forcing vendors to discount heavily. Lack of sales tools like ROI, a quality Business Case, solution configuration tools, and detailed implementation plans are a major cause for these decision delays. Your prospects simply don’t have the information they need to make informed decisions. Why? Because Sellers are unable to collect the proper information to identify their issues, pains and goals and capture their current cost of status quo. Without these two pieces of information, it is impossible to understand the “threshold for pain”. Threshold for pain is a key component to any buyers decision making process.

Remember, threshold for pain is the point at which a person makes a decision to change their norm. In other words, if you understand the problem and cost of that problem, you can project or predict the point at which you will do something about it. As a Seller in addition to knowing who can say yes, you need to understand these things:

o Issue, pain or goal
o Current and on-going cost
o Threshold for pain

Armed with this information you are able to predict when a prospect will buy. This is a key difference between complex sales and commodity sales. They know they have problems, what they don’t know is how much it is costing them now and in the next three to five years, and at what point they need to fix the problem.

As a consultative sales professional you need to help them identify the issues, calculate the cost, project the cost over a three-year period, and discuss their threshold for pain. Once you have successfully done this, you are then able to propose a solution and implementation plan and calculate ROI. As part of your Business Case Analysis you can compare and contrast the three year cost as it rises to the value you are capable of delivering over the same period of time.

Selling complex goods and services requires a lot more of your effort to be successful. You need to learn the language of the C-Suite, research your prospects, perform discovery, estimate value, use tools like ROI and TCO, create a high quality business case, and of course get to the person that can say, “YES!”. Anything short of the basics and you will not be very successful.


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