When Good Enough Is Good Enough!
There are a number of external forces driving the Partner sales community to condense and accelerate its current selling cycles. Decreasing ASP (average selling price) coupled with fewer new opportunities means sales professionals have to close a greater number of transactions in a fiercely competitive market simply to maintain their current income level.
This objective is daunting because the standard “discovery/demo” strategy hasn’t changed significantly in the past 20 years whereas prospect buying strategy most certainly has. Historically, sales professionals and demonstration consultants were inclined to show the majority of a solution’s capabilities as well as all of its differentiating features when attempting to impress prospect stakeholders. This process often resulted in extensive discovery, exhaustive demonstrations, the setting of unreal expectations and a high cost of sale.
This sales strategy was born during a time of legitimate product differentiation, a time, unfortunately, that has largely passed us by. Whether we like it, or agree with it, or not, product parity is a reality in the eyes of the buying community (mystery shop a competitor if you disagree). Which leads us to one of the primary changes in buying behavior drivers: “Good Enough” has replaced “Best of Breed”.
Failed projects and missed expectations, compounded by a risk-averse buying psychology brought about by a depressed economy, have resulted in a lowering of expectations. Prospects continue to confirm (by voting with their wallet) that projects/solutions that deliver acceptable results with a minimal of risk are preferable to those that promise greater benefits, with elevated risk.
If the task at hand is to increase deal velocity then we must find a way to remove the barriers that prevent prospects from making decisions, and to accomplish that feat we must remove the perception of project risk. Prospect uncertainty always results in increased due diligence and requests for exhaustive and expensive proof activities: 2nd and 3rd solution demonstrations, client reference calls or visits and fixed-fee requests; all buy-side strategies for increasing comfort and decreasing the perception of risk.
If prospects are comfortable with “Good Enough” then Partners should be as well. Configuring solutions sets that appeal to this growing buying group and aligning sales process objectives with prospect buying process objectives will bear fruit. Understandingly, not all opportunities are going to fit the “Good Enough” profile, but Partners that define their own unique “Good Enough” solution, based on the industries they serve and the IP they have developed, will be able to quickly qualify/categorize new opportunities into accelerated vs. traditional profiles, and then apply the appropriate sales strategy.
Identifying “Good Enough” opportunity profiles, then executing an accelerated sales process focused on risk reduction, will align Partner sales organizations with the prospect’s buying psychology, and unconsciously predispose them to want to select you as the vendor of choice. And if that strategy fails…..well, I guess you can always do another demo.