Look before you leap

A few years ago I was working with a client who sold cosmetic laser machines to doctors and beauty therapists.

The average price of each machine was $150 000. I decided not to purchase one for myself.Photo Man diving off a cliff

When I looked closely at the sales process I noticed that there was a fundamental difference in the way the best performers set up trials with their prospects as opposed to the average performers.

What I noticed was the best performers almost always made the customer wait before they went to trial. The lower performers were happy to set up trials (or demonstrations) at the drop of a hat.

What at first seemed a little odd was the fact that the earlier in the sales process the customer agreed to the trial the less likely it was that they would go ahead and purchase. Think about that for a moment. The longer the customer had to wait for the trial or to demo the product, the more likely it became that they would go ahead and purchase.

Why was this happening?

I’ve noticed this pattern occurring many times across a broad range of industries. Think about:

  • Buying a new car or a new house
  • Implementing a new technology for your school or business
  • Booking a venue for a function

Before you agree to let a prospect trial what you are selling, I suggest that you ensure that the following questions have been addressed:

  1. Have I met with all of the decision makers?
  2. Do I understand how they will fund this?
  3. Am I totally clear on their needs and the problem they need solved?
  4. Have they requested a trial or did I force it upon them?
  5. Are they clear on what they will need to see in the trial?
  6. Are we both clear on who will be trialing what and when?
  7. Do we have agreement on when we will assess the results of the trial?

Think of selling a house for a moment. If you are the agent and meet with me and quickly start showing me houses that are not really close to my needs or budget our relationships starts to move backwards, quickly.

However, if you wait until you are totally clear on my needs, have met my wife as well and understand her needs, fully understand our financial situation and purchasing history I would say you are in a much better position to start to show us properties that suit our needs, time frame and budget.

What about if you show up at my business and quickly demonstrate to me and my team your exciting new CRM or software solution. How can you be so sure you are showing us what we need?

Let’s go back to the cosmetic laser machines. When the prospect had to wait a little longer before they could have their trial what tended to happen was:

  • The sales person was totally clear on what they needed to demonstrate
  • The sales person was clear on the prospects needs and the problem that needed to be solved 
  • The sales person had surfaced and dealt with all of the objections
  • It was understood how the purchase would be funded
  • It was fully understood how long it would take for the purchase to pay for itself and then start making a profit for the prospect
  • The prospect had spoken to other people who had already successfully purchased the machine
  • The value of the solutions had been crystallised in the customers mind

By trialing the product later in the sales process the better sales reps were able to:

  1. Convert more trials into sales 
  2. Generate more and better quality referrals
  3. Spend less time dealing with time wasters and idiots

Steve’s NRG tip for sales professionals – next time someone requests a trial of your product or service make sure, as a minimum, that you have at least addressed the questions related to needs, funding, decision making process and who you are up against. I would also be checking to see if they will be trialing other products or have already done so.

I was never in the market for the cosmetic laser machine.

As my kids keep telling me, I’m holding up pretty well for a bloke who’s almost 60. Problem is I’m only 47. Maybe I should have brought one.

Posted in Sales; Tagged Sales; Comments 1 ; Posted by Steve Herzberg

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  • Sarah Owens 08/06/2015 5:20pm (2 years ago)

    You couldn't be more right Steve! Plus, if your $150,000 laser machine is collecting dust with a doctor who really wasn't ready to trial and buy, you can't get it in front of one who is!

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