It is all about Aligning with your Prospects in their Buying decision process. It takes intelligence, maturity and experience not to be pushy or salesy during the sales process. Instead, understanding your Prospects’ Buying decision process in detail and aligning with them in their process will help you land the deal. The power has shifted to the buyers now. And most of the time, your prospects may know more than what you know. It is good to have that assumption. That assumption will only make you handle the prospects with utmost respect and not underestimate their intelligence. Prospects will like that attitude.

Buying Decision Process consists of various stages and these stages were first introduced by Engel, Blackwell and Kollat in 1968 and popularly called as EBK model. The stages are:

  1. Problem/Need recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase behavior

These stages are not in any order and you cannot expect your Prospects to follow it strictly in the above order. They may have their own order and may or may not go through each of these buying stages. However, Problem/Need recognition is the first step without which no purchase can take place.

Prospects may want to start the dialogue with the Price. You may not like this and you may actually want to show the prospects the value they are buying instead of looking at it from a purely transactional perspective. But prospects who are very knowledgeable and are serious about your product or service and have spent considerable amount of time researching about your product or service would want to discuss Price in the first call. How you handle that will decide the final outcome.

You may promise, your prospects, to answer that question on pricing during the course of that call itself but tell them that you would like to get their permission to explain your product/service first. They will most likely agree to this. This is an opportunity for you to show the value the prospect is buying.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

If you can inspire your prospect with the WHY of your Company / Product / Service, your deal is done. People definitely like to be part of something worthwhile and want to pitch in and participate.

While aligning with your prospects on their buying decision process, the following are some of the things to avoid during the first call:

  1. Asking questions related to the people responsible for the purchase
  2. Asking for the timeline
  3. Asking who is the budget holder
  4. Asking about their organizational goals or what they are trying to achieve or why they are buying this product or service
  5. Avoid being pushy [does it mean that can I be pushy during the second call ? No. Never.]
  6. Making a pitch
  7. Avoid being aggressive, persuasive, judgemental, persistent, know-it-all etc.
  8. Don’t talk about your customer references from the same industry [not during the first call]

Instead you should do the following, during the first call:

  1. Listen
  2. Provide value to the buyer [we discussed this above]
  3. Be helpful
  4. Completely align with the prospect – discuss Price, if they want you to
  5. Explain your Product / Service
  6. Allow them to buy, Give them time, Be patient
  7. Offer help only when asked
  8. Look at it from their perspective
  9. Undertake research about your prospects prior to the call
  10. Show genuine interest in their products/services

Let us take this discussion forward and see how to align with prospects and create a win-win relationship with them.