Monday, December 16, 2013

Selling or Buying?

Selling or Buying ERP Solutions?

People love to buy, but hate to be sold.  Why is it that when a person walks into a store and a sales person approaches with "May I help you?" almost everyone answers the same way? "No, I'm just looking."


It really is two sides of the same coin.  The buyer wants and actually needs what is being sold and the sales person would like to sell the product or service.  It is like when you look at want ads in the newspaper and services offered.  You wonder why these two ad writers do not see each other.  From the outside it seems like a perfect match.


Qualities of a good salesperson include someone who focuses on the buyer’s needs instead of their own.  It is not that the buyer does not care, but you are on their time.  They have a need and the salespersons job is to ask the right questions to uncover if there is a good match between challenge and solution.


A good salesperson needs to be able to listen carefully.  How else will they know if the solution will fit?  They also need to create value for the buyer.  It is not just a matter of dollars and cents.  Creditability must be established first.  There must be honesty, patience, a good attitude and product knowledge.


What does the buyer need? 


The buyer typically needs to confirm the suspicion they have that things could be better.  That is a needs identification process.   They need to identify how impactful the challenge is to their business, how things could be better and what will happen if they do nothing.  What options exist?   What process do they go through to determine budget for changes, the Return on Investment (ROI), and the impact on business.  What is the decision making process and who needs to be involved? 


What amount of rapport exists between both the seller and buyer?  You do not have to be best buddies, but you do need to trust one another.  This can be done quickly and it helps if it is sincere and not just small talk that wastes time.  It is an incredible opportunity to learn more about the impact the current challenges have on the buyer’s life.  The goal is to get enough information from the buyer to enable a relevant presentation that is appropriate to his/her needs and circumstances.


The best way to start and finish is by asking questions.  That is how we all learn anything that is important.  Once the buyer’s situation is discovered and the impact those challenges are having on business operations, then the introduction and discussion of how possible solutions address the challenges come next. 


Both the buyer and seller have the responsibility to be open and honest.  If there is no solution, then it is best to state that fact.   It is better to not have a sale than to convince a buyer to purchase a product that is not suitable.  No one gains in this situation.  No problems are solved.  A lot of time can be wasted.


This writing is not supposed to be a sales training manual, it does serve as a reminder that both sides of the conversation need to exist and be balanced.  How much bonding and rapport exist?  How well does each side trust one another?  Is the solution the right solution?  How does it match and address the challenges?  How well does it fit the budget?  Where will the money come from?  What commitment exists to make changes? 



How well there is a fit between challenge and solution relates to how effective the questions that were asked.


The conversation could start on either side.  The reality is that in most situations when it comes to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions many buyers either do not need what is available or they need it and do not have the budget to address the need at that time.    


Too often sales people will launch in to a dissertation of features and benefits that the buyer does not want to hear.  They hope that something will stick.  Fact is that most buyers want to be heard and know that someone is there with answers and look forward to that point in time when the conversation turns to them.


This is where a good conversation can be rewarding.  What information can be shared?  What aspect of operations could be optimized with a new or upgraded solution that will have a positive return on investment?  The type of return that pays for the investment in a one or two year span that after which the profits go straight to the bottom line.  


ERP changes can be painful.  No way around it, especially when replacing an entire system.  The promise is great, but the gap might be wide.  Inevitably, if due diligence was applied and the right decision was made, six months later after implementing a new solution, the buyer’s people are saying – why didn’t we do this earlier?. 


On the other side a career or two may be riding on the decision.  This is no small point to glance over.  The decision is important to the business and critical for the individual.   


Effectiveness in communication.  Not sales, not buying, communicating. 


What do you think?  Have any war stories to share?  We would like to know your best question and worse day.  At Dolvin Consulting we would like to know what keeps you awake at night.  What drives you to work the hours that you do.  What you vision of the future looks like.   Contact us today to see how we can help.


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