SYNERGISES: Steers buyer groups to find and leverage common ground

SYNERGISES: Steers buyer groups to find and leverage common ground

Ananya was clearly out of breath. Her voice shook “Look at this Vishal This is an RFP written just for us”

Vishal took a quick look at the print out

“We are a global consulting company headquartered in Singapore, with a footprint covering 20 countries. We specialize in helping identified startups in emerging markets across the globe to accelerate to full-scale viability. As part of our ongoing efforts to align our digital presence to our increasing brand visibility, we invite proposals to work on refurbishing our web presence, to be launched 6 months from now, after the global pandemic situation improves. Applicants’ strengths should include demonstrated creativity in crafting world class digital experiences. We are looking for a compact, preferably small team of web design professionals who can customize an offering to match our unique needs. Please ping us with all relevant details”

“This is us Vishal” said Ananya “We are small, we are creative and we are affordable. We are rated the best upcoming web developer in this Country. I don’t see anyone else better suited for this RFP”

Vishal smiled. “You know what Ananya, I really wish I could also get excited like you. My experience with big, global companies has sobered me. To pitch with them, you have to meet their people in groups. And that always spells disaster. You will have rigid procurement and cost obsessed finance people sitting in. They steamroll the digital team that wants to work with us. One on one selling, as happens with mid to small companies is the best business for us"

George, who had been quietly listening to Ananya and Vishal, paused sipping his tea. “Listen Vishal” George said, “One of the primal fears of human beings, rated by studies to be worse than even the fear of dying, is glossophobia or the fear of going on stage in front of a group. Salespeople develop something akin to glossophobia when it comes to Group Selling, In such situations, the salesperson is forced into a ‘multilogue’ as opposed to a dialogue in a one on one meeting. This thing gets worse in virtual meetings, with the added pressure of speaking to people you can’t see physically while managing technology that’s still being learnt by most salespeople”

“What are you getting at, George?” asked Vishal

“All I’m saying Vishal is this. The discomfort we all feel, in meeting Customer’s people in a group, usually stems from 3 challenges: ONE - A sense of isolation – As the single salesperson is pitted against several in one go. TWO - Lack of feedback – People in a group, tend to respond little or may respond in ways which may be non-genuine. THREE - Constant risk of losing initiative – The group may dominate the direction and flow of conversation. Believe me, all three can be fixed if you take time to learn the art of synergising when working with groups. And you will discover that Procurement and Finance are with you ”

“So, you are saying we should give this RFP a shot?”

“We should get it is what I’m saying” said George

“Yay!” said Ananya “ Let’s order some banana cake to go with adrak chai”

The best salespeople can make buyer groups pull together. High achievers in sales thrive on steering group meetings, with people having multiple and sometimes, conflicting interests. Top performers ensure that their group presentations cover key issues relevant to all stakeholder groups. They see to it that everyone shares the their view point, see others’ view points and together arrive at the group view.

They use 6 simple strategies to find and leverage synergy in group selling situations :

  1. They mix with the group before the meeting to get a sense of the various shades of opinion. This results in better preparedness and prevents the sense of isolation during the meeting
  2. They search for and marshall support of possible allies within the stakeholder groups
  3. They plan ahead extensively for all contingencies, yet stay flexible in the meeting.
  4. They adopt a ‘problem solving’ rather than a ’sales meeting’ approach. This helps an ‘outsider’ get accepted as an ‘insider’
  5. They alter meeting dynamics by gently steering away from formal controlled discussions and one-way speeches towards freer, candid exchanges. In virtual meetings, they make smart use of breakout rooms, polls, whiteboards and other such tools to get people to interact freely.
  6. They unobtrusively move the discussion towards common ground from where a solution acceptable to all can emerge.

Sales veterans schooled in selling to giants, lay the foundation for sales resilience by building strong synergies within the buyer groups they deal with. In every deal, they arrive at a ‘whole’ that’s bigger than ‘the sum of it’s parts!

Action Question:  What is your comfort with selling to groups? How can you use the 6 suggested strategies to improve your comfort?

Related Reading: Mercuri Insight Document on How to overcome the 3 challenges of group selling?

About the series: This is the 43rd in a series of 100 Posts that purport to build your #Sales Resilience.. as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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