120808 Not Just One Thing

In which we are reminded, “Don’t rule any prospect or group of prospects out” on the basis of a sweeping generalization. During a recent conversation with a woman friend, she said, with a combination of distress, disgust, and disdain, “Ah, what does it matter? Men are all the same.”

She said this like it were a fact. I bristled and inquired, “What do you mean, ‘same’?”

“You know,” she said, nodding at me accusingly. “They’re only interested in one thing.” She said that like it were a fact, too.

Well, I my experience suggests that men can be very focused (it’s that old hunting gene pool), but I wasn’t so sure about the “one thing.” So, I was interested to read about a men’s health study (telephone interviews, 28,000 men aged 20 – 75 in North America, South America, and several countries in Europe, randomly selected from a group of men who previously agreed to participate in a survey regarding men’s health issues).

Paraphrasing from an article describing the study, the interviewed men reported that good health and harmonious family life were significantly more important to their enjoyment of life than having a good job, having a nice home, or “the one thing that all men are supposedly only interested in.” The findings were consistent across all nationalities and all age groups studied. In other words, “one thing” is a myth. Some men behave like the myth. But “all men” and “one thing” is a myth. Facts vs. myth.

We face this “facts vs. myths” challenge with prospects, every day. We say, “these prospects are all the same, they’re only interested in the lowest price” and we don’t offer the lowest prices. Or “these prospects are all the same, they are only interested in the fastest delivery,” and we’re too slow…. Or, “these prospects won’t buy from us, they’ll only buy from big companies” … and we’re too small, too new, and too weird.

These are myths, too. Just like there is no category called “all men,” it’s likely there’s no category “all prospects” or even subsets of “these prospects” who won’t buy from us for only one reason. While the reasons they MIGHT buy from us may not be easy to determine, it’s likely that there isn’t just “one reason” they won’t.

So… Don’t rule ANYBODY out based on a “these prospects are only interested in…” argument.

Develop a fact base

1) Find out more about the business challenges facing the “only buy on price” or “only buy ___” prospects. What are the challenges? How do prospects talk about them? What specific language do they use?
2) Determine whether you can offer a business solution that changes prospects’ cash flow, profits, or other financial metrics. Are you selling a product or a business solution? If you’re selling the solution, get the facts. How much of a difference does your solution make? What evidence do you have that it works?

Change your hunting approach

Just like women are more likely to run into “men who are looking primarily for one thing” in particular places, we’re more likely to run into “buyers who buy only on price” if we come in through sourcing or other lower level “functional” folk than we are if we come in through the executive or business leader levels. To be there, we need a business solution (see above) that is interesting, differentiated, and clear.

3) Find out who are the prospects’ “business decision makers” versus “sourcing people” who, typically DO buy based on price.
4) Get introduced or referred, if we can. The senior people are multiple times more likely to take our call if we’ve been referred by someone they know and trust, inside or outside their company.
5) If we can’t get an introduction, run a direct approach campaign. More on this in future columns.

The “big idea” for today is: Stop generalizing. Don’t rule anybody out. Start digging for facts. Approach prospects based on what THEY think is important. And, it isn’t likely that they are interested in only one thing.

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