My children used to come home from elementary school and tell me that “denial” was a river in Egypt. Groan as much as you want, but it’s also one of the major reasons why Do Nothing Inc. wins so many of your sales deals.As a Sales Engineer, you can talk, present, demo, whiteboard and architect your solution until you are blue in the face, but if the customer doesn’t acknowledge that they have an issue that needs taking care of – it’s going to be a long and pointless meeting. We like to speak about the great things that our company, our product and our solutions can do for the customer, but if the customer doesn’t accept they have a pain – nothing will happen.
I believe that customer denial is worse than customer inattention because it doesn’t matter what you say –it’s not important to the customer. So how do you get the customer’s attention? The standard SE practice of linking business pain to your technology solution and proving that you are uniquely qualified to do this will not work. Yet that is what usually happens – and the salesperson and SE keep going down the path of logic, business reason and all the aspects of selling solutions. The more the customer resists – the harder they push. The more the customer resists – the more people they speak with to make that customer change her mind. But if the customer is in denial then it just won’t help.
Back to getting the customer’s attention – what does work? Easy – you talk about two things.
1. You talk about someone else’s pain who the customer can relate to.
2. You forget about the customer’s pain and focus on the beautiful gains instead. But – do it along the lines of discovering what other things the customer will be able to do (or fund) once they address the pain you don’t want to talk about.
Sound a little confusing? It is – welcome to denial. More on how to make the Nile flood and create fertile selling grounds in the next post. (You knew that pun was coming…)