Next time you check the prospects in your pipeline, or do some pre-call research, think about how smart they are. It’s a safe bet most are college educated, many with MBAs. They didn’t get where they are by making a string of boneheaded mistakes, did they? Of course not – neither did you. Today’s B2B sellers are likely just as smart as the buyers across the desk. But there’s the rub.
Paradoxically, the more complex the sale, and the more intelligent the buyer. Therefore, the smartest thing you can do is simplify your sales process. Of course, we’re not talking about condescending to your buyer, or glossing over difficult problems. We’re talking about streamlining and simplifying the sales process. Here are three reasons why simpler is better:
1. Too much information adds complexity and increases risk. Information overload can be a deal killer because complexity adds uncertainty and feeds buyers’ risk aversion.
2. Change feeds fear. Making a buying decision hinges on willingness to accept the change in status quo that’s required. The more complex the sales process, the more changes you’re asking the buyer to accept.
3. More analysis = more paralysis. Super-smart prospects can easily become absorbed in analyzing every detail. Every decision point requires more time and energy, delaying the process and giving prospects more opportunities to bail, or at least postpone.
There are a number of ways you can simplify the process and turn smart prospects into buyers. Start by clarifying the buying process. For many buyers, these processes are ill-defined and ad hoc – especially for purchases that aren’t routine. Before you even start to sell, work with your buyer to map out an effective buying process – one where the key players are defined, the necessary information is identified, and the decision-making process is explicit.
For example, who has a say in the decision? What information do they need? Does the decision have to be unanimous? What are the milestones? Who keeps the process on track? Take one step at a time. Smart people want to look at the big picture. This is all well and good, but when they try to process everything, they can overload their decision-making capacity. Instead, focus on something more manageable: taking the next step in the right direction.
Don’t introduce too much information too quickly. Yes, complex sales require a lot of information. But you don’t have to dump it all on your buyer at once. Think about how to stage the information, so that buyers only have to consider what’s relevant at each step.
Just because a buyer is smart doesn’t mean your jargon will translate easily, or will win you points for erudition. One way to keep it simple: Speak in terms of what your offering does, not what it is. It’s not a “predictive analytics ecosystem,” it’s a way your buyer can identify and capture a larger share of the Gen X and Y market.
Let the product do the talking. Bright salespeople find it hard to resist explaining their product or service, instead of simply letting the buyer experience it. If you are giving a software demo, let the buyer take the keyboard. Or have the buyer operate the equipment – while you keep your lip zipped. Even better, let them test drive it, perhaps with a free trial or limited application, while you’re not around. That allows buyers to “get” what you sell on a more visceral level.