Everyone is selling! Every day & every time we spend maximum efforts in selling ourselves, selling our company’s products or services, selling what you like to your friends. The rest of time you are mostly the target of someone else’s sale. An individual buyer has a behaviour and persona that is constantly being mapped. Organisational buyer are much more complicated. There are many factors, people & processes involved in the purchase decision. Why is it so different and how can we overcome it to be a successful sales representative? Let’s look at understanding few of these challenges to help overcome obstacles and succeed in closing the sale.
1. Resistance to change
The days where an organisation faces only one or to big changes in a few years is long gone. Organisations today are having to face multiple and big changes in a very short span of time and these changes are more complex, more interdependent and more cross-functional than ever before. Change management has always been a tricky subject and resistance to change has been the frequently discussed topic. We need to understand why even a sale of new products or services to an organisation also initiates change at multiple levels.
2. Multiple Stakeholders
There is evident data which proves there are multiple stakeholders who are involved in taking a decision and they come from different locations, departments & seniority levels. Since all the stakeholders come from such different backgrounds, their objectives too are far apart from each other. Organisation form committees or even have non-buyers involved in a meeting if it is a complicated sales. A sales representative has to tactfully deal with multiple departments like purchase, finance, operation, training and top management before closing a sale. All these departments have their own performance measures and will want to extract the best(in their own ways) from the deal. If we customise our solution to please every stakeholder involved, it will bring down the deal quality tremendously and finally pushing us into a commodity trap.
For example, let us consider selling a cleaning chemicals to a Hotel. The executive housekeeper will want a product that is easy to use & effective. The purchase executive will want to cut cost. The top management may want a chemical that is certified and reputed to ensure consistency. The sales representative needs to address each of these criteria with the respective people. Demonstrating how good the chemicals are to the purchase executive will end ups o be a futile exercise.
3. Influencers at multiple levels
In earlier days there was mostly a single decision maker and a sales representative need to convince only him/her to close the deal. But now even if we present the product or service to the senior decision maker he wants to be sure about the buy-in from his own organisation at multiple level. Nobody wants to initiate a change and then later realise everyone is against it.
In today’s scenario, a sales representative has to convince all the stakeholders and important influencers before he makes a sale in that corner cabin. Here in lies the biggest challenge; finding these influencers.
4. Focusing on the right opportunity
It is becoming tricky for sales rep to focus on the right opportunities. As economy is growing lot of false opportunities tend to come up. Sales representatives are generally lured away with friendly and knowledge sharing prospects as they make them feel good. In this feel good meeting a sales representative tends to forget that their ultimate goal is not being achieved. People who can actually take decision and who drive change in their organisations are busy working and generally don't entertain sales representatives until he is able to get their attention; with a proposition that is worth their time.
5. Long buying cycles
It is very obvious, with so many stakeholders, the buying cycle will be much longer. It becomes really difficult for sales representative to keep patience and not offer additional discounts which will affect the quality of deal. Sales representatives tend to loose touch in time-consuming cycles and conversions suffer. The trick is to find ways to move sales ahead without being pushy. And for doing this they need to understand the buying process of the organisation with all stakeholders and key influencers.