In which we consider the possibility that we may need to sell transactionally to start consultative relationships.
Within the last few weeks, several of our clients have said, almost literally, “I’m too busy to manage.” As in, “I’m too busy to manage my business,” or “I’m too busy to coach my sales people,” or “I’m too busy to do my job.” These are normally rational people with many years of management experience.
In small businesses and large, leaders and sales people are working long hours – 60, 70, 75 hours – week after week for months. “The last time I had a vacation was 15 months ago,” said one Executive Vice President, recently. “I don’t like working like this, I don’t want to work like this, and it’s what I need to do now.”
Fearing the potential loss of their businesses or their positions, they work, digging deeper into detail to ensure that “all is well” and that nothing will surprise them or their bosses who grow increasingly demanding as they face the same pressures.
Orrin Klapp, author or “Overload and Boredom: Essays on the Quality of Life in an Information Society,” wrote:
“Events burst upon us with staggering rapidity….We get a few minutes to ponder one question before the next comes in. Do these provisional decisions coalesce into well-grounded positions…? Or is it more likely that large questions remain unsettled, and we go on to new ones, dissatisfied… no wiser than before?”
“Too busy to manage” and “staggering rapidity” influence their buying decisions. In financial terms, they want payback faster and with more certainty. Further, they want “snap on” solutions – something that they can buy, that someone else can install, and that doesn’t require more work from them or (perhaps) the people in their organizations.
In short, we sense that the buying process has shifted to an advanced game of “Whack A Mole” in which decision makers will buy “transactional” products that fix specific problems, then move on to the next set of burning issues and buy targeted products to address them.
With tip of the hat to Thomas Edison, who said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it shows up in overalls and looks like work” solutions that require our clients to work, to invest time to coach, change job descriptions, refine strategies, change company procedures, etc. may be at a disadvantage relative to “Whack-a-Mole” products.
In the accelerated, pressured, fear-driven world in which we now operate, we may need to:
1. Identify much more clearly the specific challenges (moles) that our prospects and clients want to whack.
2. Craft our approaches (language, sales process steps) to target those specific challenges.
3. Shift from “consultative” approaches to “simple transaction products” to begin relationships.
4. Emphasize the low risk and rapid, significant return of our proposed products.
We still need to do our sales basics – get referred to prospective clients, complete our due diligence, understand our clients and prospects, and propose helpful solutions. However: If we have a choice between offering a first idea that is “deep” and involves many people and many steps or a first idea that is an easy and quick implementation, by all means let’s go with “easy and quick” lest we be outmaneuvered by competitors who offer easy and quick even though OUR deeper solution may be exactly what the clients needs and should purchase.