The Secret to Moving Deals Forward

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a sales meeting, rattling off a veritable catalog of products to your prospect, hoping that one of them “sticks”?

Or have you wanted to convince your prospect of a particular product’s “worthiness”, so you run down the long list of ingredients or technical qualities that characterize the product?

This amounts to information dumping, and it isn’t going to help you or your customer.

Don’t get me wrong: you have great intentions in trying to be as informative as possible. But in this day and age of information overload and options galore, you don’t want to add more to the information firehose.

Your customer doesn’t need you for lists of facts and features when any of that can be found on their smart phone in the span of 2 seconds.

Instead, your customer needs you to help vet, sort, and simplify the sea of information.

Once you’ve conducted a careful discovery to understand what they need, distill your information delivery to this core concept :

  • What’s the best solution that is going to make their life better, and how will it do that?

  • What simple story, testimonial, or visual aid can you share to illustrate the relevant benefit of this solution in the shortest amount of time possible?

Remember that no matter how analytical your customer is, emotion is still the operating system running the show.

Generally speaking, your customers:

  • feel overwhelmed

  • are short on time

  • want to be listened to and understood

A Harvard Business Review article by Brent Adamson entitled "Sensemaking for Sales" examines why information overload is such a problem and what can be done about it.

The article describes three different approaches commonly adopted by sales reps:

1. Giving: “I can get you more information on that.” (“More is better.”)

2. Telling: “Let me tell you what you need to know.”

3. Sensemaking: “There is a lot of information. Let me help you make sense of it.”

After surveying buyers and sellers about the effectiveness of these three different strategies, the results speak for themselves: Some 80% of customers interacting with sensemaking reps completed high-quality, low-regret purchases. Only 50% of customers interacting with telling reps, and 30% of customers interacting with giving reps, did so.

When you’ve understood your customer’s challenges and established yourself as a trusted advisor, the greatest service you can provide is to help make sense of the options available to them, and provide illuminating insight.

Here’s what this would look like in a real-life scenario:

Let’s say you’re working with a healthcare practitioner who has asked what products you have for immune support. You’re excited about their interest, because your product catalog includes a handful of options, so you know something is bound to appeal to your customer.

➡️ If you’re a “giving” rep, you’ll start listing every product, and the key ingredients in every product, and offer to send the customer white papers on the effectiveness of these products. Your customer is now a deer in the headlights.

➡️ If you’re a “telling” rep, you’ll list the products and then give the customer your opinion on which one is the best based on what you’ve seen. Your customers is somewhat convinced, but they’re not sure if's relevant to their specific needs and priorities.

➡️ If you’re a “sensemaking” rep, you’ll state that even though there is a handful of products to choose from, you’d recommend XYZ product because it achieves your customer's desired outcomes of A, B, and C. You show your customer a single chart from a study that illustrates your customer's desired outcomes. Your customer feels confident that your clear recommendation meets their needs.

Your customer doesn’t need you for more information. They need you to help make sense of it all.

To do this, I’d recommend following these three C’s:

Curate information, rather than dumping it all on the buyer

Clarify information, so it makes sense for the buyer

Connect the information to what’s specifically important to the buyer

Now, think back to recent a sales meeting where your customer didn’t make a decision, and the deal stalled.

Were you in “giving” mode, “telling” mode, or “sensemaking” mode in that meeting? What could you do differently next time?


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