I love dark chocolate. One of the downsides of my chocolate proclivity is that the lift from the sugar is followed by a deep drop in energy. One answer would be to keep eating chocolate all day, so that there is no drop, but the dropping dead of a heart attack opportunity probably makes that an unwise choice. Sales is similar. We totally rev the buyer up. We skilfully word picture them into a sugary world of good fortune about to arrive and then we depart. We take off with the sales order joyously grasped in our sweaty palm. Did we allow for the depression that follows the deal sugar hit?
It doesn’t matter if we are dealing with an individual buyer of a high ticket item or a corporate functionary, the same sugar hit can apply. We have taken them along the railway lines of building trust, determining needs through questioning, matching our solution, handling any pushback or hesitation and gaining agreement. All good textbook stuff and we now switch to fulfillment mode. We get on to the logistics, as this often requires the assistance of other departments. We are deep, deep in the detail and busily arranging for things to happen for the buyer. We have their best interests at heart, but we have completely taken our eye off the sugar hit.
What happens to the buyer after the sugar hit evaporates? What are they thinking? What things might be worrying them about this big commitment they have made for themselves or on behalf of the firm? Have we factored this in at all? We have severely raised their hopes, but we have left them in a state of “ungratified stasis”.
In B2B sales, we can easily forget we are dealing with human beings, racked with worries and fears. Japan is a country of “no mistakes allowed” and so people are scared to make a commitment, take responsibility or be accountable. They need strong reassurance they have made the right decision, that they won’t get into trouble, that everything will be fine and not to worry. Ah, but we don’t do it though. We just glide off into the sunset and start working on the next sale.
We have been working on their buyer emotions, because we know people buy on emotion and justify with logic. This “justify with logic” bit is often not given enough attention. The sugar hit of the emotional rollercoaster wears off and the doubts begin to crowd in. Giving them more rah rah, about how great this will be for the company, is just trying to extend the sugar hit. We cannot keep this up indefinitely.
We have their agreement, now we need to get to work to calm them down and enmesh them in the logical reasons this purchase is the right decision. We summarise what we just discussed, why the deal is important to helping their business and what will happen next. This is even down to the detail of when we will send the invoice, the date of payment clarification and the next steps they can expect from our side. It is all delivered in a friendly but calm tone of deep, studied religiosity about how much we believe this is the best thing for them.
We certainly ask them if they have any questions about anything to do with the deal and the delivery arrangements. We ask the question and then we shut up. We absolutely must not speak again until they answer. We are trying to flush out any basis for buyer’s remorse, that nagging doubt of “have I done the right thing or not?”.
Following this we ask for a referral. They are hot but calmer now and are likely to be open to introducing us to one of their circle. Please, please do not ask dumb things like, “do you know of anyone who...?”. That question confuses them. We are unnaturally requesting them to take in their whole world in one gulp, rather than just a key piece of it. Instead we try and narrow the focus down to people they can see in their mind’s eye. “Amongst your current business contacts in Tokyo, have you met anyone who may also benefit their business by applying this type of solution?”.
We say goodbye and then as soon as we get a chance, we send a follow up email. In that email we list up the 5 most important logical reasons that this deal with make a difference to their business. We should be sending another email the next morning attaching data, white papers, references, anything that smacks of concrete evidence and not just salesperson blather. By this time, things will begin to roll out and the solution will start to be applied. We make sure there is no opening for triggering overwhelming doubt and hesitations about their decision.
Enjoy your dark chocolate, seal the deal, but account for the sugar hit that will come, by being fully ready for it.
08/04/20 • 12 min
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