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Why Cloud Buyers Hate Bad Salespeople (and How to Avoid Being Perceived as One)

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By Marcus Cauchi of Sandler Training

Selling can best be defined as “getting your price on your terms and both parties walk away from the table happy and satisfied … eventually.”

As buyers, don’t you love to buy and hate to be sold. I do.

Don’t you love to feel like you’re in control, to feel comfortable with the salesperson, the company, the product, the warranty and the service? Don’t we all like to feel good about our purchase decisions at the point of sale and then, when we are back in our homes or offices, to feel happy with our decision long after we made it and when scrutinised by significant others in our lives and work?

So if this works for you, why wouldn’t you expect it to work for your customers and your prospects? Do you accept the fact that you aren’t for everybody and not everybody is right for you as a customer? Or do you still chase your personal commission above your prospect’s best interests and peddle anything that they agree to buy so long as you get paid?

Tech has long had a bad reputation for selling blue sky. Tech has also long had a bad habit of calling at their level of comfort. That isn’t selling. It’s an attempt at order taking.

One geek talking to another geek about geeky things isn’t selling either. It’s free consulting.

If you’re selling Cloud based technology, stop thinking about this as a technology solution. It isn’t. So what is it?

Cloud happens to be the means by which business and personal visions are realised. The Cloud enables businesses to behave differently, to drive efficiency, to improve transparency, collaboration and currency of information. But unless you find someone who is finding the lack of these abilities is causing them enough pain to want to fix it, it remains an academic question for the people with money and power instead of one that you have tied directly to their career, reputation, personal bonuses and potential loss of power. These are the people the cloud is able to help in ways they haven’t yet imagined. It’s your job to find out why they’d care enough to do it now, with you and pay you handsomely to do it!

But telling them they need The Cloud isn’t going to work either; they need to discover the reasons they want to buy it for themselves. Your reasons are just salesman’s puff. And buyers think of salesmen thus:

1. They invade your day and interrupt you to beg or push for a meeting.

2. They show up and throw up (usually in some form of death by PowerPoint blathering on about their company, their products features and benefits)

3. They attempt to close you

4. They field questions and objections which they try and “handle”

5. Once the bun-fight is over, they try and close you again (often with a bruised ego for their troubles) and instead of qualifying you so as not to waste your time or theirs …

6. They offer to put their ideas, pricing and terms in writing in the form of a proposal so …

7. You can shop them to the competition

That is bad selling; it starts with bad management, bad recruitment and bad beliefs entrenched through bad training and accepting bad selling habits. Forgive my bluntness but I’m guessing it’s probably not far off where you and your company are today and if not you, you know Cloud competitors for whom it is absolutely true.

I get paid to tell people how to fix these problems so I’m not going to tell you how to fix them here for fear of making a hypocrite of myself. But if you can answer the following questions well, you are already well on the way to fixing the problems you’re facing with your disappointing sales performance.

1. What do you want to happen at the end of each interaction with prospect?

2. What do you currently agree will happen?

3. And if it doesn’t happen, what do you agree you can do to escalate it or end it?

4. How do you get your prospect to 70% of the talking and when you are talking you’re asking great questions?

5. Are you really paying attention? Listening? Demonstrating you’re listening? Responding to non-verbal cues?

6. Do you have a structured method to reach a qualified decision at the end of every prospect or customer interaction? If not, why not … and when will you have one?

7. When you do your pre-call planning how do you rehearse the ways you are going to neutralise objections early and on your terms?

8. How do you make sure that you if you end up with a qualified prospect who is willing and able to buy, make the decision and funnel the required resources your way, how do you make sure you are co-diagnosing their problem and co-designing a solution if it’s appropriate to get that far?

9. If you are selling to a committee do you ever make the mistake of presenting more than once to everybody who needs to be involved, and only for a decision? Yes or no but nothing in between?

10. How do you eliminate the dreaded “I need to think it over” and leaving with a wishy-washy unclear agreement about what happens next?

11. How do you make sure that everyone who is going to decide or influence that decision, is bought-in in before you waste your time and resources moving ahead with a presentation of ANY sort?

12. How do you eliminate the risk of delays and roadblocks systematically?

13. How do you get access to the key people at the top of organisations and take yourself out of being a tech/IT sale and make selling the Cloud, a strategic purchase (even with what others might see as a commodity)?

14. How does your current system of selling the Cloud and (dis)qualifying, enable you to KNOW the real reason(s) why you’re going to meet them? Why you’re leaving? What happens next? Why you’re going back? And what will happen at the end of the next interaction?

15. How do you as a company capture the lesson learned daily by you and your sales team? How do you share this knowledge consistently and regularly today to sell the Cloud more effectively?

If you take nothing else away from this article, take this. People do not buy the Cloud because they want to get into the Cloud. There are reasons (their reasons) they might want to change what they are doing and do what you are selling them the ability to do. DO NOT MINDREAD. Find their reasons and get them to tell you how to sell the Cloud to them. Their reasons are not your reasons.

ASK!