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“How do I choose?” asked the prospect.

Many sales opportunities are lost because prospects are stuck in their buying journey. Learn a sales strategy that helps them move forward.

The old sales saying “be a resource, not a sales pitch” is more than a goal. It is an incredible mind set and there are multiple strategies that could be used to achieve it. In this article I address one of the most powerful but less used.

Some years ago, I went to a business event and spent 3 days at a vendor booth, talking to whoever showed at least a bit of interest. For a better context, try to imagine the atmosphere there: more than 200 exhibitors in a “big room” (basically, everyone that counts in the cybersecurity industry), more than 120 conferences to attend, and thousands of participants.

One day, I was at the booth and a very tired looking man came by and started to read some of the marketing materials available. I asked him if I could assist and he looked at me and said, 'Fine, give me your sales pitch.' But I hadn’t managed to open my mouth when he continued: “In fact I do not want to hear your sales pitch. What I actually need is you to tell me how to choose. I have heard sales pitches all morning. All of you guys here tell me that you are the best. But there are more than 100 vendors, each with several products and I have a very busy team and we cannot test all of them. So, HOW DO I CHOOSE?”

His question pointed to one of the most important challenges of our modern life. It is so important that thousands of research papers and books have been published about it. I’m talking about “DECISION Making”.

Think a bit about your daily life…food, clothing, devices, vehicles, vacations, getting married, kid’s extracurricular activities, entertainment, jobs, customers, tools, services, vendors, partner, etc.

In almost all areas of life today, we have many, many options. We are flooded with information about all these possibilities. One may say it is good that we have options. And it is, from one perspective, but there is also a negative side to this. Psychologists call it ‘Decision Fatigue,’ and the customer in my story was affected by it. The challenges of the Decision-making process are behind many behaviors we experience with potential customers, from procrastination to not doing anything even though they are not happy at all with the current situation.

“Providing a set of criteria” is one of the strategies to employ with prospects that are at the beginning of their buying journey.

“Decision making” consumes a lot of brain power. If we deal with complex scenarios, it is almost impossible not to feel overwhelmed until we find a way to structure and classify the information we need to process. Think of picking your outfit. You open a closet, and you see many types of clothing, of different colors, shoes, and accessories etc. To be able to decide and stick with it, you start thinking of criteria. Office attire, rainy day. Suddenly it becomes easier as you narrowed down your options. Imagine how someone who needs to decide on a complex software tool for his organization feels. Having a set of criteria would be life saving.

So, how do we do it?

We can say something like “we look at the customers' needs from 2 perspectives, A and B” and then start explaining the criteria and provide the reasons behind them. Also, add later how your product portfolio or features are grouped using those criteria.

But, alas, most times companies do not have those criteria at all. They have a list of products with features and benefits but not logically grouped in a 2x2 or 2x3 or maximum 3x3 matrix. If they had it and could explain it, their sales force would be finally seen more as a resource and less as a sales pitch.

So, if you don’t have a matrix yet here are some ideas on how to build one. Start simple, thinking of a relevant 2x2 matrix for your target segment. A 2x2 matrix diagram is a simple square divided into four equal quadrants. Each axis represents a decision criterion, such as cost or impact. Each axis is divided into two sections (for example low cost/high cost and high/low impact). Keep in mind that there should be tension between criteria(attributes). It is important as those tensions represent the trade-off areas.

Most common 2x2 matrices are Impact/Cost, Important/Urgent, Time/Resources, Growth/Share; but those are not necessarily the most insightful. However, you can take them as a starting point for your brainstorming.

As another example, what I used with the prospect in my story, was a Risk/Resources matrix. It started as a 2x2 and in the end evolved into a 3x3. 5 minutes into our conversation the man realized that he committed to a trial that made no sense for his organization (high level of risk but low resources) and he started asking me about our products and what I would recommend for his specific context. He moved from `give me your pitch` to `what would you recommend`. Now, if you find this sales strategy useful, start building several 2x2 matrixes for your organisation. Test them with prospects and see which one is more insightful for them and in which context. Then refine 1 or 2 and add the strategy to your sales playbook and become a valuable resource for your prospects.

We have helped many startups convey their value proposition into matrixes, allowing them to position their salespeople as experts offering insights.

If you want to test it yourself, get in touch with us here.

Written by: Radu Mesa

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