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“I’m Just Not That into You” – The Buyer

Long cycles and no end in sight

In any market regardless of the economic conditions, it feels like some buyers will just waste the provider’s time. No one is being evil or disrespectful here; sometimes the provider sales team needs to realize that the buyer is just not that into you. Maybe the buying organization has not prioritized a need that the provider is trying to address and there is no existing budget. The conversation hasn’t moved into an area of immediate pain that would be the catalyst for the sale.

What lies beneath

The buyer is never going to tell the provider everything that is going on in their company unless the relationship with the salesperson is stronger than the pull of the paycheck with the company. This is rare and obviously not a strategy that can be counted on. There are things going on underneath the conversations with the buyer contact that could impact the timing and budget for a solution. For example, in smaller companies, you could have a partner leaving which would slow down all major decisions. In larger companies, the buyer’s organization could be hemorrhaging cash and they are scrambling to find out why. These kinds of uncontrollable events have nothing to do with the provider’s solutions or relationship, but can slow everything down to a crawl.

Try a sample, a pilot or a small project

One proven solution to a big buying decision is to make it a small buying decision. Try samples, pilot programs or a small roll out of the solution. Not only is the provider now in the building, they could achieve approved vendor status in a large organization which would ease future purchases. Track all benefits and turn in into a financial story for the buyer. Organizations are in business to make money which is the simple equation of revenue less expenses. Positively impact the revenues or expenses of their organization and the executive team is likely to notice.

Influencers vs. Advocates

People like to talk with people they like. If the provider has a salesperson that is well-liked and has a pleaser personality, it’s not difficult to get meetings. Once the meetings begin, subsequent discussions are easy and there seems to be real interest from the buyer. The person we are talking to may know more about what we are offering than anyone in the buyer’s organization, but that doesn’t mean they have influence. Ask the buyer advocate to help get the salesperson in front of someone with influence or decision-making power. If the provider is only speaking to advocates, the buying cycle will be long and expensive.

Guard your time – think like an entrepreneur

Put yourself in the place of a struggling entrepreneur. The entrepreneur has a few thousands dollars left in the bank, some employees to manage and needs to get little Billy to the baseball game on Friday. The entrepreneur is living the dream but it doesn’t always feel that way. One of the first things an entrepreneur has to do is figure out how to manage their time because it’s an asset that is limited and irreplaceable. The person decided to be an entrepreneur because it gave them a sense of freedom and purpose.

There are some similarities. Good salespeople love their freedom and do have a sense of purpose. They like helping their clients while bringing revenue into their company. What many of them struggle with however is respecting their own time limitations. If a buyer isn’t ready to move forward in a reasonable time frame, walk away for now. If the salesperson is friends with a contact that can't move forward, meet them after hours for socializing. We must remember that every time a salesperson goes on a call, the provider's money is being spent. A sales call is an expensive undertaking on a daily basis and there must be meaning behind it that has the probability of turning into revenue in the near future.

Over time a salesperson learns to read the signs that a buyer is going to buy. It’s just as important to read the signs of when they will not.

The lead can always go back into a lead nurturing stage where marketing can drip campaign the buyer until they decide they are ready to enter a buying cycle. Why should an expensive salesperson spend time talking to an improbable buyer when marketing offers a more scalable strategy to keep them informed? Personal drip campaigning is all that is happening when the salesperson is calling on a contact who is not a qualified buyer.

If the buyer just isn’t that into you, the provider's marketing team needs to help the salespeople find the buyers who are. There are lots of fish in the sea and salespeople need to be in the right places at the right time to catch them.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps