I thought this post might be revealing some ancient trade secrets of
the industry, but I think its more of a case that people need to
know. The more we observe, and analyse, and discuss and debate, the
farther we can go towards a more professional ecosystem.
Geoffery James from BNET wrote a little while ago that Structured
Sales Techniques were getting obsolete. I would invite him to study the Lahore market as a case study.
Once in a while I see an interesting sales process here sometimes, and if I were to formalize it into a model, it would go something like this:
Step 1- The Closing Phase
Before you have even had the chance to meet, or send any information about your product or services, you go into the Objections and Closing phase. The potential customer will typically make very deep assumptions and generalizations about who you are, what you do, how you operate, and will start negotiating with that perception in mind.
The conversation will begin with objections such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look, people like you will probably charge too much more than what I will be able to afford for something that might not be needed, so I dont think we should move forwardÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ mind you this will probably be the first sentence out.
Step 2- The Cramming Phase
For every one of these objections, you will have a little over a few seconds to come back with a response. The art is to structure your response so that through those responses you describe who you are, what your products or services are and how there is a business case to take it further.
E.g. you will hear Ã¢â‚¬Å“You probably do too many things and wont be able to focus on our projectÃ¢â‚¬Â to which you will not only handle the objection but also provide information about your relevant products Ã¢â‚¬â€ mind you this will the first time products come up in the conversation.
Interestingly enough, the questions fired at you during this negotiations is also the limited time you have to learn about the customersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ needs. What are the specific direction of work in which he is objecting?
Finally, this is also the phase in which you will be simultaneously be pitching solutions, running costing through your head and pitching prices until something works out between both. You will, ofcourse, have those few seconds after the objection to do all of that.
Step 3- The Agreement
Eventually, the closing and clarification phases come to an end, and both parties would already have reached consensus or middle-ground on pricing, the relevant product, and the options. This usually happens with one of the following:
a- The prospect has nothing left to object about
b- The salesman has convinced him that the prospectsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Point-of-view is vehemently mistaken and that the salesman is infact correct
c- The salesman has put some major leverage on the table, e.g. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sure but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the only people who control the supply lines for thisÃ¢â‚¬Â
After that, a proposal is typically not made, and the parties go straight into a contract and execution.
You may call this an efficient model (or not) but it is certainly one which is insulting to the sales professionals.
How many times do you like hearing from someone you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even met Ã¢â‚¬Å“See the most depressing thing about you is that firms like yours probably offer many consulting areasÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ so that means youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a Jack of all Trades, so I KNOW you actually dont know anything anywayÃ¢â‚¬Â
That, when all you had to ask was something more like Ã¢â‚¬Å“How many consultants are you in total to be able to cover so many areas?Ã¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“How much of your past experience is relevant?Ã¢â‚¬Â
So how do you win? You attack back Ã¢â‚¬â€ this country thrives on the lack of clear industrial information rather than on the proliferation of it.
You start breaking down all aspects of the prospects business and tell them they run a shop headed for imminent disaster because of some rumor you had heard here>, and that without your help they are a doomed group. You argue, rant, debate, emotionally challenge, cut-off, shout and often scream to each other to get the job done.
Then you just sign the contract and execute. There goes the Relationship.
Do I do that? No, but I hear from top-notch salesmen in Lahore that this is one of the tactics used.
Whether my choice of focusing on building relationships instead of this tactics is the right choice or not, I will say that it bothers me quite a bit Ã¢â‚¬â€ looking at such a conversation from the context of a human to human interaction, it bothers me a lot. How does a relationship that sets off on this foot head in good directions?
I have not seen this in Islamabad or Karachi, but I see this in many (not the majority) of small businessmen in Lahore.
The majority of the people that I speak to are thankfully exceptionally professional, and some of the leading professional companies in Lahore would include Nestle, Ovex Technologies, Techlogix and a few others.
It would be good for Geoffery to give me his more expert analysis of this as a sales process.
Would also like Donald TrumpÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thoughts Ã¢â‚¬â€ After all, he thinks New York is a tough place. Boy.