Existential Sales

Over my breakfast egg one morning, I read one of my son's college application essays that boiled down to a bio-physics angst: "If we're just clouds of electrons hovering together like so many bees in a swarm, what's the point of anything?"

Since he hasn’t had a philosophy class yet, I’m guessing he’s not clear that he asked a BIG question and answered it as an existentialist  – one who asserts  that people make decisions based on what has meaning to them rather than what is rational by others’ measures. [Wait!  Don’t run away!]

Which brings us to the question of buyer behavior in sales calls.

During a sales clinic last week, I introduced a designed 15  – 30  minute sales call structure to use with busy prospects who say, “OK, I’ll give you 15 minutes.”

After introducing the structure, I asked the group, “What’s the value to your prospects and customers of engaging with you in this conversation?  What’s the meaning of this to them?”

Their first answers were words to the effect, “So we can gather some information and offer products or services that will help them meet their goals.”

Yes, I said, that’s true. But, since they can buy the products or services you sell by Web or through a call center, why do they need you in their offices?  What’s the meaning or value of your sales call to them?

After brief discussion of, yeah, yeah, every customer’s meaning is different …

…  their answers began to include thoughts about helping buyers gain perspective, see options they hadn’t heard about from colleagues or friends, reassess their priorities, understand  current best practices,  feel reassured that they’re making the right decision, and know that they can trust  the people they’re doing business with.

Useful to think about because, do you think we’d approach our prospects differently for calls about “perspective” than we would for calls to  “… gather some information and offer products or services” ?

We’d probably prepare for those calls differently.

We would probably listen differently during the calls – to understand what’s meaningful to our prospects or customers rather than listening primarily for cues regarding products they might need so we could propose products fast because our prospects and customers don’t have a lot of time.

And we might propose different solutions.

I think I’ll have my eggs-istentials over easy, if you please.

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