A new ‘must read’ is the article in the March 2009 Harvard Business Review entitled “In a Downturn Provoke your Customers”. I put off reading it until I had ABSOLUTELY nothing else to read (which happened to be yesterday) and found it fascinating.
The point is abbreviated in the following “Idea in Brief”:
“Selling in a downturn … is hard. Discretionary budgets have dried up.
To ensure that room is created in customer’s budget for what you sell, develop a provocative point of view on a critical issue …”
Although the examples focus on selling commercial products to larger companies, the article suggests that ‘solution selling’ (what we do when we use Sandler to find the pain) “is still the right approach when the customer understand the challenge to be faced and has the budget in place. … However provocation-based selling may be the only way to move past the ‘buy nothing’ mantra.”
It is an interesting approach which asks a question as difficult as that asked by Kraig Kramers when he asked “what causes sales?”
It asks us to identify a real problem which the buyer might not have yet identified and then when the buyer realizes how well we understand what they’re facing, we help them resolve the apparent contradiction between needing the answer and having insufficient budget to buy the answer.
Read it here!