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Why Sellers Lose Deals: What Would Your Buyer Say?

Why Sellers Lose Deals: What Would Your Buyer Say?

Categories: Sales Conversation

Be More than Just a Vendor

In my buying career, I’ve always had an aversion to sellers who showed up unprepared. 

What buyer doesn't?

However, I'm not just referring to having the right brochure to show me, or the right PowerPoint slide. I’m talking about a seller’s failure to do the prep work necessary to understand my organization’s business strategy and challenges.

My time was valuable. I was busy. I never had time to bring a salesperson up to speed. The buyers you’re calling on don’t have time either. You need to get to the point, and when you’re dealing with buyers – the point is finding a solution to their current business challenges.

Contrarily, if a salesperson speaks to my current needs in a way that demonstrates he or she knows something about my business right out of the gate, then I listen. In my vendor conversations, I’m also looking for “street cred.” A vendor that can provide evidence of solving similar problems for other companies will get my attention – and maybe my business.

It is critical for B2B sellers to be able to express and differentiate their products and services. Competition is fierce. If you don’t differentiate, you're a commodity. If you can’t differentiate your solution, then as a buyer, I’m going to focus our discussion on price.

Just ask vendors in the staffing space. I’ve seen some vendors forced to participate in online reverse auctions for their services (i.e., who will give the lowest rate for a given job role). They weren’t even invited into a real room to negotiate! Yet, vendors who presented “solution” services instead of just “roles & rates” were granted exemptions from the auction process, as well as from the rate restrictions.

A seller’s biggest asset, when trying to show differentiation, is providing the proof of prior success (your street cred). Without a doubt, I will pay more for someone with a proven record of success. That’s why a vendor’s proof points are so important. They help you differentiate your products and services, and minimize a “price-only” negotiation.

Why Do Sellers Lose Deals?

In my opinion, the reason why sellers lose deals, even if they may have the right solution, is a lack of business acumen. I’ve seen multiple examples where an inferior product won because a competitive vendor didn’t articulate value or “defend-the-spend” from a business perspective. Any vendor who can help the buyer make the business case will have a real advantage over the competition. This also helps the buyer see the vendor as more of a trusted advisor.

Unfortunately not many vendors can do this well. I once had the branch manager of a regional boutique consulting company (with whom I did not have a prior relationship) offer to come onsite himself for two weeks, at no charge, to help me with a business problem and build the business case for a solution. It was a win-win situation. He brought me the experience I needed to tackle a critical business challenge. At the same time, he learned enough about my business needs to crush his competitors when it came time to close a deal. His approach earned him years of business.

There are many factors that are out of the seller’s control. An internal financial challenge can absolutely kill deals late in the sales cycle. Budget challenges are inevitable. However, vendors who create a substantiated value will have a better chance of succeeding, when those likely challenges come.

4 Ways You Can Be More Than Just a Vendor:

  • Understand my business and what I’m dealing with day-to-day
  • Show that you know my challenges and provide a value proposition; otherwise, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a second chance. 
  • Once I’m listening, be ready to provide proof points that show me you’ve successfully done what you say you can do. 
  • Continue to clearly articulate your value and differentiation throughout the buying process, and you’ll find yourself with a closed deal.
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