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Most of your customers and prospects are in either Growth or Trouble mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Identifying which mode they’re in is simple. Reshaping your approach to delivering value is essential, but it’s not easy.
Before jumping into the business survival tips, let’s start by understanding how Growth versus Trouble mode frames a buyer’s orientation to change:
Miller & Heiman’s 1985 book, The New Strategic Selling, presented the idea of selling as a joint venture and introduced that decade’s most influential concept, Win-Win – rejecting manipulative tactics and emphasizing process.” The book is a must-read for sales leaders.
There are four potential buyer response modes to change:
3. Even Keel
*Let’s assume there are very few potential buyers out there at this moment that are in Even Keel or Overconfident mode due to the pandemic.
Business Survival Tip 1:
Buyers in Growth mode perceive that your solution can support or accelerate growth for their company.
These buyers understand the need to manage growth and that change is needed to make growth happen. In essence, buyers will respond positively to solutions they believe will help to close the gap between the current state and their growth goals.
The moderating factor with the pandemic is that most buyers can’t predict if growth will continue or possibly contract to pre-pandemic levels.
Business Survival Tip 2:
Buyers in Trouble mode, realize that the business is struggling or failing (losing customers, money, productivity) and know that things must change.
These buyers are open to solutions that can address fundamental problems and are more open to radical solutions than buyers in Growth mode.
In “normal” times, these buyers tend to be short on resources (time, people, money, skills) to acquire and implement the solutions that can address their problems.
The moderating factor with the pandemic is that buyers in Trouble mode have pressing and precarious financial challenges that may be impacting the organization’s ability to survive the pandemic and thrive once it’s over.
Business Survival Tip 3:
Buyers in Trouble or Growth mode are actively engaged in the market and willing to pay to change the current state.
To that end, sales teams shouldn’t lead with discounts or aggressive pricing to stimulate demand.
How To Capture The Opportunity In Trouble and Growth
Business Survival Tip 4:
Buyers in Growth mode are likely dealing with unprecedented surges in demand.
They may want your solutions, but they’re unsure how long the growth in demand will last so they will need flexible commercial terms as demand continues to surge, or possible dramatic drops in demand as the economy transitions back toward “normal”.
Sales teams need to develop a menu of (new or updated) commercial terms that address Growth mode buyer anxiety about future demand.
Your company’s ability to flex will also be key buyer criteria for change.
Business Survival Tip 5:
Buyers in Trouble mode are laser-focused on cutting fixed costs and driving operating efficiencies that may have seemed not to be worth the effort in the past.
Gaining Trouble mode buyer wallet-share is a rich opportunity at the moment.
For example, a customer where you have a 20% wallet share may ask you for a reduction in solution scope due to the pandemic. Instead of focusing on retaining what you have, a better approach may be to ask for a competitor’s solution share to reduce the scope and more flexible commercial terms during the pandemic.
A final business survival tip on buyers in Trouble mode
I’ve heard many salespeople say, “I can’t talk to my contacts as they are focused on managing issues with the pandemic.”
Don’t let salespeople get away with that sentiment. Whether your buyers are in Growth or Trouble mode, now is the time to engage with customers and prospects if you believe you can provide value when the opportunity exists.