There are times in the sales process when it is in your best interest as a sales rep to push back politely on the prospect. A hot sales book right now is The Challenger Sale and it outlines some interesting dynamics most seasoned sales vets don’t know, or have backwards. What I really like about pushing back on the prospect or politely challenging their thinking is that it shakes their frame of reference and the status quo. When you can shake up the status quo, you get the attention you need to sell.
Selling features will bury you
There are of course different ways to push back depending on your industry, who you sell to, etc but the overall premise is that you need to get your prospect to think differently. Get them off of features as best you can and focused on the end game or state you are going to help take them too. It’s easier said than done, but it is worth the effort.
Here’s a little story from the sales trenches
I once had a prospect in a deeply competitive sales pursuit that sent me over the competitors RFP and asked me to take the time to fill it out. I tried calling her first and got her voicemail, but I ended up emailing her that I would not fill our a competitors RFP as a matter of good business practice.
I then coached her that competitors grease analysts/consultants to dream up these RFP’s that they then use to try and tilt the conversation in their favor. I rhetorically asked her to go through that RFP and rank the items on the 10+ page document in order of mission critical/can’t live without to nice to have. I also told her if she did this it was probably not the best use of her valuable time. She got the big picture and I never heard about that RFP again. We won the deal. Through continuously challenging her to come up a level to strategy we won the deal. Our competitors lead with features, confused her and lost. We would have absolutely lost if we answered that RFP as requested.
Challenge prospects politely and you will earn their respect
While we do want customers to like us, we’re not there to become their best friend. We’re there to show them how to get better results, show them how they can do it differently, easier and change the direction of the company for the future ahead. To do that is not easy. To do that you have to politely challenge your prospects and lead the charge. When you challenge properly you earn the respect of your prospects and they turn into customers. When you just chat people up and try and close on features you lose most of the time.