In conversation with Mr.Girish Bhat, Vice President, Business Development, Tech Mahindra and Consultant at otts
How do we understand a buyer’s needs?
A salesperson needs to understand where the customer is, in his life cycle. I’ll take a concept from “Strategic Selling”, a popular book by Miller and Heiman. In a sale, irrespective of whether it is strategic or not, there are 4 different kinds of buyers:
- User Buyer: A buyer whose role is to evaluate a product based on it’s usability or his comfort level in using the product.
- Technical Buyer: A buyer who evaluates the technology of what is being purchased, and makes his recommendations based on how well it fits into the technological landscape.
- Economic buyer: A buyer who focuses specifically on pricing and Return on Investment.
- Coach: A buyer who will help you to overcome all the sales objections that actually come up.
What are Sales objections?
In any typical Sales cycle, there is a set of objections that comes up. Objections like, your product specifications do not meet the RFT requirements, or you’re commercially much higher priced than the others. For instance, a customer may say “We see that the Return on Investment over 5 years is quite expensive for us and we’ll end up spending 40% more money”.
What possible situations can we encounter?
Let’s say that a customer is in trouble, and needs to make a purchase. In this scenario, a person who gets to the customer first, is the person who will walk away with the deal, because the customer is already in so much of trouble that they will buy something to quickly overcome it. There will be hardly any challenges in selling here, save for a few limited discussions. On the other hand, there could be a customer who believes that he is absolutely fine and has no challenges whatsoever. Here is where you will have issues if you want to sell.
How does this help me to overcome sales objections?
Most of the time everything is focussed on what I would call as “Value Selling”. There is nothing called “Customer buying for price”. The only reason a customer buys a cheaper product from the competition as compared to you, is because he did not really see any value in the product/sevice you were supplying. Or he felt that the value that was being offered by both vendors for a similar product, did not have any marked differentiation and hence he chose the lower cost offering. So, typically, my suggestion has always been to talk more about the value, the benefits.
Whenever there is an objection to a sale, one needs to find out from where the objection is coming, what is the basis of the objection. If the product is more expensive, then the salesperson has to look at what the benchmarking is. You need to get into more detail to understand if this is an “apples-to-apples” comparison or an “apples-to-oranges” comparison. That is where the key lies. We always need to go back and see where the differentiation is coming from.
For every objection, you will have to counter it with a value. You have to prove to the customer that there is more value that is derived for a price that is marginally more as compared to the competition. For every objection that comes out, you need to step back, look at what the objection is, and prepare a counter argument. Like “What if it was done this way?” or “What if I were to compromise two of the specifications?” That will also automatically set the customer on the backfoot, since he will not want to compromise on the specifications of a solution, just to get the pricing down. There has to be a ‘give and take’ at any point from a negotiation or counter-argument perspective.
Thank you, Mr. Girish, for your time and your valuable insights.
25+ Sales experience
Ex VP TehMahindra (ME, Africa, India)