Do your needs analysis – however be careful they may not know
This is going to be a really difficult. I almost do not want to write about it. If I were a sales consultant looking for gigs in writing an article, I would leave this section out. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing at all against sale consultant (except of the one my company hired a few year ago, but that’s another story at another time) However, this sections will fly in the face of conventional sales methodology. Now, I believe strongly in conventional training and methodology, but in the spirit of selling the unseen and the unknown, like AP Automation this is a very important section.
A Little Story
I think I will start with a story. When I was newly introduced to sales I was given a script and an introductory flip chart (this was before PowerPoint). I was told by my sales manager that if I memorize this script and present this chart I would not have to know anything about what I was selling and the presentation would do the work. He said that it was just like golf (by the way he only made golf analogies, I think that is all he cared about). He said that in golf you pick your club and let it do the work; you do the exact same swing every time. The analogy did not make a big impact on me because I was not a golfer, however I believed him when it came to the sales presentation. In six tries however I was 0-6 and beginning to think that I would be better off taking up golf as a profession. The next company I worked for did the exact same thing. I was selling life insurance at the time. I was very young and did not know much about life never the less insurance. It was a very difficult gig for me; however the second company’s manager insured me that if I follow their training and sales presentation then I would be successful. The second company had a fancy title for their presentation, it was called the WIIFY… that’s right the WIIFY, like whiffle ball. WIIFY stood for what’s in it for you… clever huh? I do not think the creator of the WIIFY intended for me to whiff the presentation because that is what I did.
The thing about what I was selling, life insurance, is a product that is an intangible but it was well-known. With a well-known product a “needs analysis” as well as probing for pain becomes appropriate. In the world of the unseen but most importantly of the unknown, which is AP Automation, it can be very difficult to find any pain or pain that is significant enough to close a transaction because the people buying or evaluating my not know there is pain or (worst) may not care. I found this to be the case with my accounts payable automation offering where one of the biggest obstacles to overcome was, “the old way is not so bad… after all bill are getting paid”. It is the client’s indifference that can hurt your sales process when your offering is not well-known. Keep in mind that it is important to find the pain or gain but you will have to do some educating first.
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and try to give it to them. By the time you have built it they’ll want something new” – Steve Jobs
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