It’s frustrating being a newer sales rep and falling for what I call the “buddy effect”. It’s even worse when you are a veteran seller and this happens to you. It happened to me more than once, until I learned how to qualify. Here is an example of what the buddy effect is –
A lot of time is put in by you, the seller, to find more probable prospective buyers – you get research about them and their company, and get to digitally know them. Perhaps they were referred in by someone or through an inbound process.
You build a relationship with your prospective buyers. It becomes friendly – pretty soon your buyer almost seems like a friend.
They express plenty of interest
They like you – they REALLY like you – oh, and your products and services. If you want to better understand the science of how we crave people liking us, go here (and it has more about Sally Field’s acceptance speech from 1985.)
You talk with your buyers regularly about when they will be making a decision, and what questions they have. You get all smiles and thumbs up. You get head nodding. They stall, but you figure they are busy, it’s a busy time of year, and other justifications.
Wow – this deal could really close, you think!
If you don’t know better, you keep “checking in” and “touching base”. You don’t add value – simply try to count the days till you can close this opportunity.
Problem is that your buyers are just being friendly and they are telling you what they think you want to hear. In sales, it’s called Happy Ears. After all, we are all human beings. Most people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings.
Most of us have grown up telling a white lie here and there, rather than being direct.
This week a salesperson I’m coaching got a “no thanks” after his buyer has been stringing him along with smiles, positive signs and every indication (in his inflated brain) that this deal is real and will close. He had others in his company assuming the same thing. No one was based in reality.
Too bad because this one deal alone would have gotten him nearly half of his quota. It was a big deal.
Then, the call comes in – “we’ve decided to not go ahead….”
Oh, the rest doesn’t matter – whatever the reason – YOU didn’t do what you needed to do up front and as things moved forward.
Here are some of the questions you need to ask to know if there is a real opportunity or not.
Who is responsible for knowing everything about whether your buyer is moving forward to work with you and your company? YOU ARE.
Don’t be surprised in the 11th hour. That can happen due to some extremely unusual circumstance – but should never be a last minute surprise NO because you didn’t ask enough questions.
I never won a deal by asking too many questions, but I have lost deals by not asking enough.
Don’t let it happen to you more than once.
A structured sales process will help eliminate this problem.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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