After years of sales training, I was recently given the opportunity to ‘walk in the shoes of a software buyer’. While it may not be a practical exercise for all, allowing me to lead the selection of one of my sales tools brought a whole new perspective to years of assuming what buyers want. I now want to share my experience with you as it has provided some great learnings on how to better support prospects in their buying process.
As I am one of the senior members of the business development team, my manager asked me to search for a new chat engine. I had been complaining about it for a couple months and he thought it would be a good exercise for me to find a better solution. At first, I was flattered that he trusted me with this task, but that only lasted for a few minutes. Then I thought, what? Why me? What if I screw up?
Our current solution was ok but not great. I embarked on the project by making a list of the features we needed (must have/would like to have) and started the search.
Here is a list of my key observations along the way:
The Software Websites
I hit ‘the Google’. If they weren’t on the first page, they didn’t make the list. Even then there were so many options! I started eliminating those who didn’t offer a demo but there were still several left. Most websites weren’t very attractive and either verged on too much or too little information.
Clean up your website! Host videos to give visitors the options to learn about the product without having to commit. My work weeks are always busy, so I wanted to run my first round of research based on the website before agreeing to lots of demos. Simple clean design, features, clients, time in the market and then an option to book a demo are what I wanted.
I decided to look at some review websites for a Top-10 list but I soon realized that each website had a different list. How could this be? Could I trust them? Were they legitimate reviews?
Find an objective way to show me what customers are saying. I want to buy something that has succeeded elsewhere. I don’t want to choose something that could fail.
I involved my colleagues and asked them to jump on a live demo. They were ok, some were a little folky which made me wonder how long they’d been around? Do they have any clients? Could they possibly be better than what we already have.
Demos need to be professional. Skip the small-talk and guide me through your product in an efficient manner. Tell me who you are, who you work with and why you think you’re better. But don’t start with a demo. I don’t need to know everything, so make it relevant to my usecase! Ask, ask and ask more.
Why are there so many options for price? Your options make me insecure. Now I’m comparing products and pricing options. The variables are overwhelming. I looked at 10 products. Most products have 3 versions. That’s 30 combinations to consider.
Listen to what I need, give me a price I can understand and communicate to others. Don’t try and trick me.
The bgghhh Phase
This sound actually left my body. I started getting confused to the point where I was ready to call it quits and just settle for what we have. I found that I was putting it off. The vendors had unintentionally made it more attractive for me to do nothing. The irony is that doing nothing was becoming the largest competitor for all of them.
Listen, follow-up, be clear and reassure me that I’m making a safe choice.
Finally, we had one vendor who hit the points above. We looked around the table and just nodded. It was attractive, simple, to the point, only one price option which was reasonable, and the salesperson wasn’t pushy. Perfect! That was it, I forgot all the other platforms and decided. I didn’t even give my manager another option, that’s how sure I was.
Now as I go back to my daily tasks, here’s what I’ve learned: Be respectful, straightforward, truthful and persistent. The simpler I can make it for buyers the more likely they’ll buy.
We have since made changes to our process, added more simplicity to our YouTube channel, implemented a better chat tool and shared these findings with our sales and marketing team.
For those trying to sell, I hope we helped. Go forward, good luck, and prospect.
For those trying to buy, challenge us and say what you want from your sales people. We’ll listen adapt and do better.
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Written by Adriana Favella, Senior Business Development Manager at Traction Guest.