In the previous blog, we continued our discussion of the critical questions sales management should ask when it comes to closing must-win deals and explored “What Is Causing Uncertainty?”, which is present in every complex B2B sale. In this blog, we’ll show how we can manage that uncertainty as well as address the question “Can We Make It Easier for the Customer to Buy?”
As we learned, we will almost never have perfect information – and, in truth, we can’t have perfect information. This would require all of the customer buying influencers to be perfectly aligned on the outcomes they want to achieve and to basically be experts in what they are buying – meaning they can easily “connect the dots” between those desired outcomes and the right solution to deliver them. That’s just too much to expect!
Add to that, the dynamic of being “sold to.” How many of us can’t wait for another telemarketing call during dinner when we are at home? How many of us appreciate hard sell tactics when we are at the car dealership or shopping for a major appliance? I would bet not too many. Don’t we all want to feel we are making an informed decision? Aren’t we more willing to part with our money when we get to participate in the buying decision? And yet, too often we act like these aren’t important considerations to our B2B Customers. Here is what I mean…
When we give a customer our proposal with one option, we are essentially telling them here is the best answer for you. If you care to read it, we will tell you why we are the best solution. Furthermore, if you flip back to the pricing section we will tell you what you’ll pay for it. With all of the uncertainty inherent in any B2B sale, how can we be so sure we have the best answer? The result is often the customer feels they are being sold to versus being afforded the opportunity to buy. As a result, aren’t we forcing them to make a choice between our offer and their most likely alternative? Instead, what if we let the customer have more choices and let them tell us what they believe is the best decision for them? The concept I’m describing is called Multiple Acceptable Options (MAO) and, when done correctly, it is one of the most powerful concepts in effective B2B selling I know.
Multiple Acceptable Options are two or three bundled offers we will use to manage uncertainty and allow the customer to buy. They can be described as the following:
We are prepared to accept any one of them, however…
We expect the customer will value each very differently
Titled to be meaningful to the customer (outcomes/value proposition)
Tells us what is really important to the customer
Allows the customer to “Buy” versus us “Selling”
Encourages the customer to take ownership of “their deal”
Minimize single issue such as “price only” negotiations
Sure, we all want to sell a $5M deal right out of the gate to a brand new logo, but would we be willing to accept a $500K deal to get our foot in the door? Of course, and that’s what I mean by acceptable! However, by titling each option as the outcomes or value proposition it will deliver, we expect the customer to value them very differently. As soon as a customer gravitates to one option, they are telling us what is really important to them after all. And we are letting the customer “buy” versus us selling to them.
A word of caution, in nearly every case, the final deal the customer really wants is some combination of the options you present, so we must be prepared to negotiate and trade (a topic for a future blog). Because each option is a bundle, we are minimizing single issue negotiations, such as “price only.” But what is really happening is the customer is participating in constructing the right deal for them. In other words, they are making an informed decision they will feel is the right decision. And now it becomes “their deal.” All of the internal hurdles and issues they told you would be problematic in getting a deal closed, seem to suddenly get taken care of, because they are closing their deal they helped construct and are not being sold your deal.
Mathematically, what have we done to our odds of winning? It is now our Option A, against our Option B, against our Option C, against the competition. We have dramatically increased our odds of winning! In the next blog in this series, we will show how to incorporate our MAOs into a “Compelling Proposal.” With just seven simple slides, we can incorporate virtually all of the concepts we’ve discussed so far in this series and make it much easier for the customer to buy from us, and feel confident they are making the right decision.