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Sales Process – When Does Your Customer Decide and How

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Wed, May 19, 2010

It's discouraging to discover that if you're spending time on your proposal, talking about your solution, your company and the future you're putting your focus on the wrong things to make a sale. 

The decision to purchase/change is made during diagnosis with little if any knowledge of your solution.  Jeff Thull pointed out that fully 40% of prospects fail to purchase because they don't believe they can change or don't believe they have a problem. 


Sales' job is to help the prospect understand their problem.  It's far less about what you sell and far more about how you sell.  Helping the prospect identify indicators of their issues and confirming the impact of their problem is part of the diagnostic stage of the Diagnostic Business Development Process.  Discovery [understand key business issues and establish relevancy in key relationship] precedes diagnosis.  When you realize that you may lose the sale because your prospect doesn't believe they have a problem or they don't believe they have the ability to change, you begin to recognize the absolute critical aspect of diagnosis.  Until they recognize they have a problem they are not even a real prospect.

I recently did a poor job of helping my prospect recognize the depth of their problem.  I say that because they decided they were going to solve the problem on their own.  Even though they've demonstrated they have not been able to previously do this work on their own, they came to the conclusion that they now know what to do and have the capacity to achieve it. 

I failed to give them a clear impact on what their lack of discipline had been costing them.  Perhaps they will discover they can't hold themselves accountable and don't have the resources or knowledge to achieve the results they believe they can accomplish on their own.  Clearly it's my responsibility for not helping my prospect understand their problem.  I failed to elevate the pain they will incur in trying it again on their own.  I also failed to quantify the costs of what failing in the past cost their business.

It hurts to lose a sale to a competitor.  It hurts worse when you realize you failed to convince your prospect they needed to change or make them realize they didn't have a problem in the first place.  

I'm currently reading Jeff Thull's book Mastering the Complex Sales and plan to provide more insights into his methods.  I'm seriously motivated to improve my sales capabilities. 

John Assaraf, author of The Answer provided some insight into the value of clarity and why knowing your One Thing and having a goal setting tool like the One Page Strategic Plan is so effective in producing results.  We'll explore this next blog.    

Topics: Sales Process, One Thing, One Page Strategic Plan, Sales Discipline, Diagnostic Business Development Process

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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