If a prospect engages with you but ends up not buying your product, service or idea, chances are they couldn’t clearly see how you were going to relieve their pain or enhance their pleasure. Notice how I said ‘you‘? Not your company’s product, service or idea, but you! And they will certainly not buy (from) you if they don’t feel a significant connection with you. Full stop.
Asòtítọ́ Chronicles tell of the victories and travails of real-life sales and ordinary people. Although the people and events are real, all names have been changed to protect privacy and spare embarrassment.
If they can’t buy you, they can’t buy from you!
Joe had every reason to expect an interesting encounter with Steve Jessop, the regional Business Development Executive of Pat & Way Builders LLP. But even he could not have foreseen the drama that ensued; it was that unbelievable!
For years since they moved into their home, Irene (Joe’s wife) had nagged Joe about paving the drive-way so they could more easily park their cars more easily and have a maintenance-free frontage to boot. Joe always tactfully resisted until he felt they had the funding in place and he had a bit of time to oversee the work. Not that he expected to be actively involved in the actual work, but he nevertheless accrued one holiday week that he could use when the need arose.
The “no obligations assessment” appointment was for 6.30pm. Steve was running late and managed to call Joe at 7pm, full of apologies. He eventually arrived, more than a little flustered, at 7.18pm.
After taking measurements of the front garden, Steve took a few moments to sketch the needed work and do some costings. He presented Joe with a quote and asked if he would like to go ahead right away, as he couldn’t guarantee that the heavily discounted price just quoted could be held for longer that a couple of days.
Joe explained that he liked to mull over things and so preferred not to make a decision on the spot; particularly with regard to projects like this that he needed to spend a lot of money on. Would Steve mind a call from him after a week or so?
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Steve asked if Joe was actually ready for the project as anyone else would have jumped at the superb offer he was making to him. He also wondered aloud whether it was a matter of money, as a personal loan could easily be arranged to cover the payment.
At this point, Joe had had enough and told Steve to leave the quote with him and that he would be in touch soon. Steve, on the other hand, felt that what was needed was more “sales techniques” to handle objections and indecision. He proceeded to promise a further discount, if Steve placed the order immediately. After much to-ing and fro-ing, Steve finally accepted that Joe was not going to buy, at least not that day, and eventually left at 9.45pm.
Joe was very irritable and exhausted and told Irene that there was no way he “could ever buy from Steve as the man was too disrespectful, pushy and really obnoxious!”
How did Steve manage to get it so wrong?
It used to be said that “People buy from people”; but as everyone is under so much pressure these days, this axiom has changed in recent times to simply, “People buy people”. i.e. Prospects first and foremost need to buy into the personality and value system of a sales person before they can be in a positive state of mind to buy from him.
To put it mildly, Steve did not make it easy for Joe to “buy” him. He basically did not understand nor connect with his prospect and so failed to give him enough reason to even think of buying the service, which he clearly needed and had already budgeted for.
“Throughout history, the most common debilitating human ailment has been cold feet.”
A basic analysis of the incident throws up the following:
- Steve did not pay attention to the precise nature of Joe’s expressions during the phone call when setting up the appointment. Had he done so and had he been appropriately trained, he would have quickly realised that this prospect was methodical and liked some sort of structure. Straight away, Steve would have personality-coded him accurately.
- With that, Steve would have known that coming late and being flustered were definite no-nos! He was delayed across town at a networking meeting earlier that day which he could have arranged to attend on another date and time.
- Joe’s initial impressions of Steve were that he was unorganised and had little or no respect for him and his time. These set alarm bells ringing in Joe’s mind, as they represented a high level of risk, especially that of unacceptable surprises. He couldn’t be sure that any interaction with Steve could be brought to a safe, satisfactory and painless conclusion.
- On arrival, Steve did not really observe the prospect’s environment, including his choice of house, cars, neighbourhood and furniture. He would have done some of this, but coming late really wrong-footed him. Had he looked around properly, he would have seen that the two cars in the driveway were a Mercedes-Benz CLK that was LPG converted as well as Toyota Hybrid. He would also have noticed that there were quite a number of gadgets about the living room, more than he normally saw in similar situations. This observation alone would have strongly suggested to him the personality code he was dealing with.
- The high value of knowing his prospect’s personality code would have been that Steve would know not to pressure Joe and immediately respect his need to do his research before coming to a decision. But then, Steve clearly didn’t have expertise in personality coding methodology, which would have helped him clinch this sale, in so many respects.
Here are some additional points to ponder:
- What should a person look out for when they get to enter a prospect’s home?
- Is it important to pay attention even to the clutter in a room?
- What about the prospect’s dressing?
- Are there any children? If so, what are the dynamics you can observe?
- Any pets? Which ones?
There were most certainly many other things Steve got wrong; can you identify some of them? Please share your views below.
Can I also suggest that you take some time to think of these further questions; they will help you understand the viewpoints of both the prospect and sales person better:
- What do you think of this case study?
- How else should Steve have managed the occasion?
- What do you think Joe did in the end?
- Feel free to share your own experiences of similar situations.
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