Because the sales model is a solution-placement model and many solutions are similar, sellers often rely on differentiating themselves through price and service. Hence ‘Relationship Manager’ has become an iconic term that denotes good customer service. But everyone offers good customer service: it’s no longer a competitive point.
It’s possible to pull away from the pack by being a Relationship Manager who facilitates excellence, which can begin on your first contact: start conversations by leading prospects through the changes that would occur once they accept the possibility of resolving a problem your solution could resolve. In a software sale where a prospect needs better reporting processes (your solution, for example), you could teach prospects how to assemble the right IT folks, plant managers, and users to facilitate efficient change – possibly involving restructuring their current software processes or user tasks – without fall-out. On a personal sale, say, gym membership, you could begin by facilitating the person through the willingness to do something different.
You see, a ‘need’ is not the issue. A buying decision is a change management problem, not a solution choice issue: a purchase of a new solution necessitates disruption – potentially far costlier than the price of your solution. Here is a rule: before buyers can buy, they must (must) get the appropriate buy-in from the folks who will touch the new solution and know how to effectively manage whatever changes will take place to avoid disruption. And the time it takes them to do this is the length of the sales cycle. Unfortunately, there is no one to help them figure it all out as they begin their buying decision journey. But if you shift your focus, you can become a Relationship Manager who facilitates their change.
I know you’re used to focusing on the need/solution fit, but just because there is a need does not establish a prospect and you’re wasting too much time pushing solutions where YOU think they should be rather than facilitating the change that THEY need to address before they can buy.
Let’s redefine Relationship Manager to mean ‘one who facilitates excellence through buy-in and change management.’ Then you become a true servant leader and separate yourself from the pack with a truly competitive skill set. And consider using Buying Facilitation® as an add-on skill set to the sales model to facilitate the path to change, buy-in, buying, and consensus.
Contact Sharon Drew to discuss or share ideas.