B2B purchases that involve more than one person at the buyer’s company usually call for a lot of due diligence and vendor management. That means a lot of questions.
The problem is the more questions your prospects have to ask, the more times they have to contact you, the more meetings they have to set up, the more tired they become. They find themselves losing energy and interest. And they decide the incumbent isn’t so bad after all. Or they decide to put up with their home-grown system for a while longer.
And you lose the deal.
This happens regardless of how promptly you answer their questions or how nice you are. Why? Because it’s not their job to buy from you. Nobody has a job description that includes buying from you as a key performance goal. They have other decisions to make, and if they could avoid making a decision about you, they would. With every extra decision they make they become more tired and more likely to stick with the status quo. You don’t have to take my word for it.
How do you avoid this trap?
Start by having sympathy for the B2B buyer. Then follow these 5 steps:
- Identify all the questions that your prospects routinely ask you
- Think through your answers to these questions
- Define who at your organization should answer these questions
- Train your staff on #3
- Become pro-active
Here’s an example:
Say you’re a company that routinely out-performs your larger, more well-established competitors. But nine out of ten prospects eventually get around to asking you about your financial viability. They worry that you might not be big enough to sustain their business. They worry that you’re too small not to fail.
The wrong way:
You find yourself facing this question late in the customer’s buying process when their legal, financial, and vendor management teams get involved. By then you’ve spent a lot of time and energy on the prospect. So when you’re faced with this question your team scrambles to re-assure the buyer that although you’re small, you’re mighty. You’re here for the long run. You have other large customers that are all happy with you. You run a tight ship, financially. And so on.
Maybe you fly a couple of your executives to the customer’s office. Maybe your CFO and CEO scramble to get on a call with their counterparts at the buyer’s company. And sometimes it works.
But sometimes it’s just not enough. And the work you’ve done to reassure them is wasted, along with all the work you did to get them to this stage. It would have been nice to know sooner that this would be a deal-breaker.
The right way:
Next time you engage with a large customer, you gather the sales team together and you say
“Look, this prospect fits the profile of companies that tend to worry about our size. Here’s what we do. We bring the size issue up earlier in the sales process. We let them know that a lot of companies their size have this concern about us but that once they learn more about our company they realize that the bigger risk is not going with us.
Once we have an NDA signed, we can send them these documents that include our audited financials and in-depth customer reference videos talking specifically about our size, viability, and ability to support our customers. We then offer to schedule a CFO-to-CFO call to walk them through the numbers.”
Here’s why that’s the better way:
- It lets them know that you know enough about their business to anticipate this concern
- It shows that you’re confident enough to bring it up instead of hide from it
- It avoids them having to ask
That last point is probably the most important one.
The fewer things they have to ask about the better. And the fewer questions they’ve asked by the time they face the tough questions the better.
Don’t wait until they’re exhausted from two weeks of feature comparisons and proof of concept demos before answering a deal-breaker question. Bring it up while they’re fresh, and take the burden of asking the question off their shoulders. It can make a huge difference to your ability to guide the deal in the right direction and close the deal more quickly.