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11 January 2015

“Price” is not your biggest sales obstacle. Hint: tick tock

Sellers have traditionally focused on buyers’ price and budget as their biggest obstacles. Guess what, your first {and sometimes biggest} hurdle is Time.

On any given day, the average person makes thousand of decisions – both consciously and in “auto-pilot” mode. We make over 200 decisions every day just about FOOD! {Pancakes, French Toast, or Omelet?}

With the abundance of options and choice for just about anything, we have to make choices on just about everything. The struggle is real, my friends. The phenomenon of “Decision Fatigue” explains much about how draining it is to make thousands of choices every day.

So when faced with more decisions that eat up more time, decision makers are reluctant to add one more thing to their plate. Which makes it really difficult if YOU are trying to get someone’s time and attention.

So if you’re selling something {YOU, or a product or service, idea},in order to build a relationship with a prospective buyer, you must first sell them on accessing and sharing their most precious commodity, TIME.

Sellers have traditionally focused on buyers’ price and budget as their biggest obstacles. Guess what, your first {and sometimes biggest} hurdle is Time.

Think about how freely you give your time away – as a consumer. Do you want to meet with every insurance agent, car seller, internet service provider or pest control company out there to hear why you should choose them? Nope. Though you must make informed decisions, you don’t want to spend your precious time listening to every sales pitch. You can narrow down the field on your own by asking friends, checking social reviews and gathering the terms, service and fees from websites. This way you control your time and decide what criteria are important to you.

So, why, as SELLERS, do we approach buyers, thinking we need to start talking about price or budget or even features when the first thing we need to sell them on is how we are a good value for their time.

Time is fleeting. You can’t get it back and you can’t make more. Time is rare these days and someone is always begging for their time to be the priority. Time can’t be replenished and decision makers have to weigh how to use their time in order to make the best decisions – day in and day out.

Your biggest and first challenge is to demonstrate how you will use, respect and value someone’s time. Because if you can’t over come this hurdle, you’ll never get to anything else that matters.

On their terms, buyers ask this about their Time – “Are you going to waste it, monopolize it, use it, or give me back more time? If so, how?”

If you’re trying to gain an appointment with someone, one of the best methods you can use is to demonstrate both your understanding of their limited time and how you’ll respect and value it. Share with them –

  • How prepared you will be.
  • What ideas you’ll share.
  • How you’ve helped others with similar problems.
  • What insight you have to help them make decisions.
  • What results you can yield with this time.

See, none of those things is about price or cost savings or spending budget. Don’t back yourself in to the corner of your product or service being a commodity by focusing on price or savings to gain a meeting. 

Until next “TIME”, keep kickin’ butt.

-sks

PS – for more insight in to a Buyer’s time, read this “Letter to a Seller” penned by the wonderfully astute Sales Coach, Jill Konrath. {Jill’s books and blog posts are some of the best sales advice out there for Enterprise teams.}

Dear Seller,

I only have a few minutes, but I understand you’re interested in selling me something. As far as I’m concerned, that’s being pretty self-serving.

The truth is, you have no idea what my life is like. You may think you do, but you don’t – and you need to if you’re going to get my business.

I got to the office early this morning so I could have some uninterrupted time to work on a project – something I can’t seem to squeeze into the normal business day.

By 9:00 a.m., all my good intentions were dashed when my boss asked me to drop everything in order to put together a headcount reduction plan. Revenue slumped last quarter and we need to cut costs.

Then, Engineering informed me that our new product won’t be available for the upcoming tradeshow. Sales will go ballistic when they hear this. That’s the last thing I need to have happen.

Get the picture? Welcome to my world of everyday chaos where, hard as I try to make progress, I keep slipping further behind. Right now I have at least 59 hours of work piled on my desk. I have no ideas when I’ll get it all done.

Did I mention email? I get over 150 each day. Then, add to that at least 30 phone calls from sellers just like you who’d “loved to meet with me.”

In short, I have way too much to do, ever-increasing expectations, impossible deadlines, and constant interruptions from people wanting my attention.

Time is my most precious commodity and I protect it all costs. I live with the status quo as long as I can – even if I’m not happy with it. Why? Because change creates more work and eats up my time.

Which gets us back to you. In your well-intentioned but misguided attempts to turn me into a customer, you fail woefully to capture and keep my attention. Let me be blunt. I don’t care about your product, service or solution.

I quickly scan your emails or letters looking for self-promotional talk that glorifies your offering or your company. The minute it jumps out at me, you’re gone. Zapped from my inbox or tossed in the trashcan. Say it in your voicemail message and I delete you immediately. Delete, delete, delete.

When you spend an entire meeting blathering about your unique methodologies, great technology and or extraordinary service, my mind wanders to important tasks that need to get done. Sure, I occasionally check for messages. But you would too if you were in my position.

I’m not always like this. Occasionally a savvy seller captures my attention, entices me to meet, shows me why I should change, and then makes it easy for me to work with them.

What are they doing? They’re completely focused on my business and the impact they can have on it. That’s what I care about – not their pitch.

If you focus on helping me achieve my objectives, I’ll listen to you all day long. But you can’t rope me in with the good stuff, then slip back into that trash talk. If so, you’re gonzo.

Make sense? I hope so, because I’m late for a meeting, and while I’ve been writing this, the phones been ringing off the hook.

Best regards,

Your Customer