By Guy Aston, Mid-Market Business Director, Huthwaite International

It amazes me when I hear the simplicity with which many sellers approach their sales opportunities. It may be because of the feature-led introduction to the product at the time of product launch, but when selling to a specific organisation, they sell their solutions as a ‘one size fits all’. It is as though they were selling to a corporate identity. The flaw in this approach is that members of decision-making teams are not all the same and if those members are responsible for different functions, you can be sure their needs will differ too. The 'one size fits all' approach will not be effective. Let's use a simplistic example to make the point.

Let's say you are selling a well-proven, very reliable Bottling Plant to a fizzy drink company whose existing plant is fifteen years old and getting very tired. The Financial Director sitting opposite you is going to be focused on cost - Can he reduce the current maintenance bills? Will the new system run more efficiently - possibly faster – helping to improve bottom line? The Operations Director will be concerned with efficiency too, but perhaps in terms of faster customer turnaround and improving relationships between the production staff and maintenance team. He may consider that being able to process even more bottles will impress his superiors. The Marketing Director will be looking not just towards customer satisfaction (no more late deliveries) but could efficiency improvements allow a small price decrease to make the product even more competitive? Could they run a second product line at the site? The Managing Director is going to be focused across the board but particularly on bottom line and shareholder value.

The above example highlights that you really do have sales within sales. Each member of the Decision Team has to be assured that they are going to get what they are looking for from your solution.

So, when you are considering your offerings, don't just ask yourself what they do for the organisation. Think in terms of what value they offer to the organisation at the different levels – perhaps technical, middle management and senior management, or whatever the levels may be in your industry. Then give consideration to the issues these levels will be experiencing that your offering will eliminate.

Always be wary of rushing into a presentation to a group of people without having information about the audience and their roles. This will enable you understand what their issues might be and the value you can bring. Ideally, try and have at least one exploratory meeting before being drawn into a presentation or a demonstration.

Never forget that you do not sell to organisations, but to individuals. You must know who each of them are and the roles they play. And most importantly, what is each of these players looking for?

If you adopt the concept of selling to individuals and not organisations, it will help you become more effective in the world of complex sales. It will make the sales a little more complex but the increase in effectiveness should really pay dividends. Good luck!

For more information visit www.huthwaite.co.uk

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