In his entertaining book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz describes a central problem facing customers in today’s markets. The unabated pace of technological evolution, combined with the Internet-driven information revolution and the rapid globalization of our economy, has resulted in an explosion in the number of competitors in nearly every product category.
As a result, prospects are confronted with an ever-wider selection of vendors from which to choose when making a purchase decision.
It might seem logical that having more choices would empower customers and give them the opportunities to make better decisions. In fact, the opposite is true. Buyers are paralyzed by an abundance of choice. The problem is that as the number of products and services in a product category proliferates the actual feature and pricing differences between them narrow. And in the mind’s eye of the potential customer, any perceived differences between products and services in a crowded market diminish to the zero.
The paradox posed by Schwartz (too much choice = slower, difficult decision-making) is exemplified by the fact that in too many competitive sales situations there is no clear “best” choice for the buyer. In particular this speaks to the marketing shortcomings of most companies and the weaknesses of their messaging and sales process: you are not giving your prospects a clear and obvious choice to make.
When products and services are perceived by prospects to be very similar, and when their features and cost are in fact largely the same, the customer will begin to focus on intangibles. One of the most effective intangible qualities you can use to differentiate your company, your product, and yourself is how you sell your product or service.
And that’s the good news about selling in today’s competitive markets: Your success in sales today is more dependent on how you sell than what you sell. That’s right! This is the ideal environment for any sales team because it means that your ability to win orders and capture market share is completely dependent on factors that are under your direct control.
However, with every good comes a bit of bad and here’s the bad news about selling in today’s markets: Your success in sales today is more dependent on how you sell than what you sell.
This is bad news for sales managers and salespeople who want to hide behind a barrage of excuses as reasons for their failure to hit their goals. If your product or service is largely the same as each of your competitors’ in terms of features and pricing, then you are playing on a level playing field. In this kind of sales environment the way that you differentiate yourself from your competitors, and create tangible value for the prospect along the way, is by how you sell your product. I call this “No Excuses Selling” because if the key to winning more orders is how you sell, then the elements for success are all under your direct control and there can be no excuses for not consistently achieving your goals.
The experts who write and talk about sales often go to great lengths to make the whole process of buying and selling seem more complex than it really is. In the quote above, Jeff Bezos cuts right to the heart of what selling is. It is about helping the customer make a purchase decision. Selling is not about persuasion or convincing a buyer to take an action. It is about providing your customers with the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. And like people everywhere who are busy and distracted by all the demands on their time, your customers not only want to make a good decision; they want to make that decision and get it off their to-do list in as short a time as possible.
Selling with Maximum Impact is the sales framework sellers can use to help their customers make fully informed purchase decisions in the shortest amount of time possible. Selling with Maximum Impact simply means that every interaction with prospects or customers must be carefully planned to provide them the maximum value with the smallest possible investment of their time.
If you can make it easier and faster for your prospects to make a decision, then you will have converted your intangible qualities into tangible value. A compressed buying cycle saves your prospects time that they can then invest in other profit-making activities.
Make decision-making easier for your buyers by taking actions that provide the maximum value at each step of their buying process. And, as a result, make you their obvious choice.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company's Sales. A leading sales process expert and noted speaker, Andy works with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time. Sign up for our weekly digest of valuable selling tips, “The Speed of Selling.” For assistance with your sales processes, contact us at email@example.com.
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