Sales: Playing when the dice are loaded.

Sales: Playing when the dice are loaded. 1024 682 admin9696

Every sales executive has experienced the delicate situation where an RFP or a RFP like demand is received from a buyer out of the blue. The deadline is for tomorrow and the request is detailed enough to assume that your prospect has been thinking about the best solution to solve a business problem for a long time… Without you to influence the vision of what could be the perfect solution.

Some buyers think they are smart and that sellers will not see the dice are loaded. Some sellers are smart too but may decide to play it differently depending on their seniority and their skills.

Out of the startups and scale-ups we have been supporting for 2 years now to scale, align or pivot, here are the most common sales executives’ profiles we have been able to identify.

The Naive: stuck between the Hard worker and Problem solver profiles of Challenger Sales, they would answer, no matter what it takes. They would find time in their packed agenda to provide a detailed and professional offer. No resources? They would draft the offer themselves. Because however credulous and innocent they may be, and still far away from sales eagles, they are structured and organized. So, they have probably created a template for reuse that they can customize depending on the customer needs, the industry, the persona and the product.

If they are juniors – they must be, right? – coachable and eager to learn, let them learn by experience – including failure. If you have detected no outstanding skills around productivity, structure, outcomes focus or growth mindset, well, it may be time to investigate a career move closer to sales supporting functions.

The Beast: they know that the chances to win an RFP received without influencing it is below 5%. They don’t know where the number comes from -surely not from their own experience since they would never, ever answer this kind of RFP – but they know. By the way, they don’t speak to buyers. So, the most likely answer from them is to tell a buyer where to go with their RFP.

They may sound rude and are as harsh on themselves as they can be with customers. They are experienced sales experts. Unless the account was transferred to them recently, they rely on the actions they took and their instinct to conclude they have missed something, and it is their fault. Don’t rub salt on the wound: an out of the blue RFP is an insult to their sales skills.

Let them one day to come back to you and confirm their stance or document a strategy to compete.

The Player: he or she wants to be loved and to be told that answering is worth their time and effort. Obviously, receiving an RFP is not a good start in a love affair and or long-term relationship. Most likely, you are not preferred. Best case, you are equal, and this position is neither satisfying nor gratifying. So, it is time to play. The first answer might be to ask the buyer straightforwardly why your sales organization has been considered and whether the buyer is able to tell the difference.

The second answer will be based upon the RFP needs. The game consists in highlighting what has been understood and summarizing what your company’s outstanding answer could look like. Then, depending on the buyer’s answer, the Player would ask to postpone the deadline and request both access to power and a solid presales investment from the customer. Show me your love and I might spend some time with you. The player turns the table and restore the balance in the buyer / seller relationship.

Players are as expert as Beasts. They just prefer seduction to confrontation. Let them play, they will come to the same conclusion.

The Strategist: let’s acknowledge the likelihood of receiving an RFP out of the blue is low for this profile. Because the strategist is most likely a seasoned sales executive working on a single account or a limited number of targeted accounts, he or she knows everything from them. So, receiving an RFP never comes as a surprise. In terms of expertise, you have nothing or little to teach them. And since they are responsible for your most strategic accounts, not answering an RFP may not be an option.

They will withdraw if they think they are not able to compete. Compared to the Beast or the Player, they will not play games or burn bridges. If they think they will fight a losing battle, they will establish or reinforce their position for future engagement. If they estimate your position is weak, they will leverage their relationship with the C-suite and highlight the implications. But if they are at their best in their career, they would certainly for a flanking strategy. They will change the game and avoid a frontal battle with competitors and shift the focus of the customer’s buying criteria to new or different issues that favor your solution.

Let them think, challenge their conclusions, and make sure that once the strategy is set, they can rely on your most valuable resources to draft an offer.

Not every seller is as wise as Sun-Tzu. Not everybody has the gut to push back or play the buyer game till they get some tangible evidence there is a reason for them to invest time and energy in an RFP.

The Sales universe is full of buyers who think they are smart, tire kickers and gate keepers.

No matter how experienced your sales force may be, just make sure you don’t take the fact that customers have completed 60% of their journey before reaching out to you for granted.

RFPs or out of the blue requests should always put on a red light. Defining your own rules, terms and conditions would never be a reason for being eliminated. And this is by far the simplest way to test how serious the buyer is about your company and your product.

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Think. Good selling.