The Risks In Selling Your Client Something Less Than They Need

You want to sell your dream client what they want to buy. Getting this right makes it easier to win your opportunity. It is also faster than selling them something that they haven’t expressed an interest in buying. But selling your client less than you should sell them is fraught with risks.

If you want to drive a wedge between you and your competitors, you have to sell at the strategic level. You have to help your clients solve big problems, and this means you sometimes have to help them with a need they haven’t yet recognized.

Here are the risks in selling something less than strategic—and less than you should. Take note.

You Don’t Solve An Existing Problem

Let’s say you want to sell your dream client something and they have already built the internal business case to make that purchase. That’s great; a lot of your work is already done. But as you are having conversations around the opportunity, it becomes clear to you that your client would also benefit from something else that you sell. They may even benefit more from that something else you provide.

But there isn’t any support for buying something additional. No business case has yet been made. You believe that adding the additional product, service, or solution will make it more difficult to win. You believe it may take longer. It might.

Choosing not to build the case and present what you know to be the right solution leaves an opening. By leaving an existing problem unresolved, you leave the door open for your competitors. Because your client doesn’t recognize a need now doesn’t mean that they never will.

Existing problems open the door for your competitors.

Your Client Doesn’t Know You Are Strategic

You are known for something. By selling something less than your client really needs, your client doesn’t recognize you as someone that can help them with the offering that you didn’t present to them. You assume they know what you sell, but it’s more likely they don’t.

Later, when they do recognize their need around some area where you could have helped them, they’ll believe that solving that additional need isn’t your strong suite. If it was, you’d have presented it earlier, right? Or worse, they’ll believe that you sold them what you wanted to sell them, not what you knew they really needed.

By selling less than you should, you leave your client with the impression that you are something less than an L4VC (a level 4 value creator). You leave them believing that you aren’t thinking or selling to them at the strategic level.

If you want to be an L4VC, then be one and present the whole solution.

Your Solutions Produces a Lower Return on Investment

Selling at the strategic level often produces a much higher return on investment. You may fear that adding additional products, services, or solutions to your original opportunity will make it more expensive and slow down your opportunity.

The reality is that by building the right overall solution, you are solving a bigger set of problems and increasing your client’s return on investment. Bigger problems, even unrecognized problems, are likely to be more strategic. Solving them makes you more of a strategic advantage.

Your Competitor Will Sell Them What They Need

The greatest risk you have by selling less than your client really needs is being competitively displaced. By selling product, experience, or a simple business result and leaving more strategic needs unresolved, you open the door for your L4VC competitor to march in and make that sale.

Instead of solving your client’s complete set of needs and becoming someone they believe is a strategic advantage, instead of thinking like part of the their management team, you become just another salesperson. Either you give your client a picture of what their future should like or you can count on your competitor to do so.

You risk losing to someone that will sell your client what they really need.

They Don’t Always Say Yes

Your client may say no to the bigger, more complete offering that you know is right for them—especially if they don’t’ yet recognize that fact. But you can start making the sale before they have decided that what you added to their original need is good for them. You can get them talking. You can give them something to think about.

You can start laying the groundwork and building consensus around the initiative. You can paint the picture. You can layout the roadmap to getting them to the future that you clearly see. You can continue to make your case before, during, and after you make the smaller sale. This is what you would do if you were selling at the strategic level.

If you are going to be strategic, then be strategic. If you are going to be your dream clients trusted advisor, then tell them truth and sell them what they really need.


Why do you sell your client something less than your client’s really need?

What are the risks of presenting a better, but more complete and more expensive, offering?

What are the risks of not presenting your client with what they really need, even when they don’t recognize that need?

How do you manage the increased time it may take to close when a deal may be bigger and more complete?

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Filed under: Sales

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