If you aren’t seriously into all things business-to-business sales, this post and the other post I wrote about buyers being 57% into their buying journey might need a little context.
Corporate Executive Board produced research that indicates that buyers are 57% or 65% into their buying journey before they engage with a salesperson. I like the people I know at CEB, especially Brent Adamson and Matt Dixon, authors of The Challenger Sale.
But so many people have taken this statistic and massively distorted its value by suggesting that inbound marketing and social selling are the only way to get in front of a deal that the statistic has lost all value. Worse still, some people miss the point that the value of the statistic is that it is a call for salespeople to work harder to create value, not that salespeople have no value to offer their buyers.
That said, I don’t think your dream clients are anywhere near 57%, and if they are, you are allowing it by not creating greater value.
Here are 12 hypothetical questions you might ask to make sure your dream client found their way through their own buying process successfully without your help. [And these questions might be a gentle nudge about what you can do to create value during the process.]
- Can I assume that you already know what you need? Can you share with me how you frame up your challenges and what you believe to be the right solution as it stands right now?
- Are you worried about the things that you don’t know that you don’t know? Would you benefit from another perspective, another way of looking at these challenges?
- If there were other systemic challenges that someone else could see but you might be too close to notice, would you want that perspective before you made a decision?
- How did you make the trade-offs in solving this problem or challenge this way instead of some other way that might have helped you with a greater systemic challenge you might not yet have picked up?
- Is it safe to assume that other than discussing our pricing, there is no value that I can create for you here?
- I am concerned about our ability to determine the cultural fit of our two organizations in a 90-minute bake-off presentation in your boardroom. Is the relationship a factor you believe will be critical to success if we work together?
- Can I assume that your team is already aligned around what the right solution needs to look like? That no one opposes this initiative? Are there some people who might need to be engaged in order to get the results you’re really after here?
- Can I assume that you aren’t open to new ideas, even new ideas that might produce better results faster? Or would you be still be open to seeing all of the choices available to you to see what you feel most comfortable and confident with?
- Can I assume that you are aware of all the risks that you might face and that you are comfortable with those risks? Can you share with me what you perceive as your greatest risks here.
- Can I assume that it’s okay that you are going to have to do something radically different in 6 months time by pursuing this solutions this way? Or would it make more sense to explore the options you’re going to need to look at the next few months?
- What if the solution you like doesn’t produce the intended outcome?
- Can I assume that you don’t mind if what you do here gives your competitors a serious advantage and leaves you vulnerable to competitive threats?
I wrote these questions in an adversarial tone, not because that is how I would ever recommend you deliver them, but because I want to make a couple important points. First, your buyers don’t know what they don’t know. Second, your buyers likely don’t know what you know.
If there is information and insight parity, you aren’t working hard enough to change that balance.