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Why Didn't The Prospect Buy?

Ask small business owners and sales professional why a prospect didn't buy. The answer most often given is "the price was too high." If it was not the price, it was the timing.

Of course, this is how you would expect the sales person to answer the question because this probably is what their prospect told them. Maybe it is true. 

Although the prospect said it was price or timing, it is more likely that the sales person failed to understand their needs and therfore could meet them.

Ironically, ask small business owners and sales professionals why the prospect did buy, and they will often say it was price, the timing or the relationship. In other words, even when succeeding, we may not always know why.

The problem is that there is not enough understanding regarding prospects. Once given the opportunity, the sales person goes right to selling features and benefits. The sales person does not have a process for gaining a deeper understanding as it regards the business outcome the prospect wants to achieve.

Drawing of a couple of keysImage via Wikipedia

Here are four keys to understanding why prospects buy.

Know the business objectives of your prospect. In other words, what is the context for your potential solution?  Is it to improve customer service, increase sales, improve operational efficiency, improve communications, improve safety, etc.?

Know the "issues" with which your prospect is dealing.  Specifically, what are the things that prevent them from improving customer service, increasing sales, improving operational efficiency, improving communications, improving safety, et cetera?

Know what has held them back in the past.  You will find that most B2B prospects have been aware of their issues for some time. Understanding why they have done nothing before, or what they have tried unsuccessfully, will significantly improve your ability to create, share and implement a solution.

Make "no" acceptable. Before prospects will be completely forthcoming, you must communicate that your intent is to help them find the best solution. They must understand that you have the integrity to walk away from an opportunity if you know that your solution won't meet their needs.

Implementing these four ideas into your sales process will have two positive effects. First, you will understand how to meet the needs of more prospects resulting in more sales (not to mention a shorter sales cycle). Second, you will understand much earlier in the sales process when you can't meet a prospects needs or if they are just "kicking tires" allowing you to not waste precious time.

Do you have some great examples as to how a deep understanding of your prospect's issues led to a sale?  I would love for you to share them.

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