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Be Just As Curious About Decision Making Process

  • by Elay Cohen
  • September 12, 2014

Be Just As Curious About Decision Making Process

Has this ever happened to you? You just received a hot lead from marketing. It’s the CEO of a company in your territory. You schedule a qualification call.  You uncover the CEO’s #1 issue is aligned with your solution. You get introduced to the project team. You do detailed discovery. Everyone is excited.  You send over the paperwork. You believe the deal will close month. Uh oh, procurement has a long process and now everything is on hold until a formal project is endorsed by the CFO.  This could have been avoided by uncovering the customer’s decision making process earlier in the cycle.

Be curious about the decision-making process

Decision_Making_ProcessEvery company’s decision-making process is unique. The job of the sales team is to be “just as curious about the decision-making process as they are about the customer’s business problems.” Some companies, depending on the size of a transaction, may allow decisions to be made at the line-manager or departmental levels. Others will need to go up to a CFO, CEO, or even the board for approval. It’s important to have clarity on who is buying, who is paying, and how a decision will be made. And don’t forget to ask the critical question of whether anyone has veto power. I also love this open-ended question: Who else needs to be part of the process?

The same energy and curiosity should be applied to the evaluation criteria. You want to find out what is important to the decision makers and influencers and, more importantly, why it is important. Some companies may value price over product superiority; you can easily turn pricing objections into a strategic differentiator if you understand what is motivating an evaluation criterion. Also, asking layered questions around the evaluation criteria will surface stakeholders who were not already identified.

What to do when your customers raises an objection

A great coaching tip for your sales teams is one around handling objections. If a buyer believes you cannot meet one of the items on a list of evaluation criteria, there is a suggested way to handle it, and there is no need to be defensive with a response. Simply reply with a question: What would you need to see to believe we can meet your requirements?

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About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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