Same old story, “You love me but you won’t buy…”

20 Oct

In two recent meetings with startup executives, the same issue came up.  It was a challenge for us at Inquisix and at many of the startups I’ve talked with.

The issue is that many people SAY they love your idea, your product, your solution and would buy it IF it were only ready.  And of course they tell you to build it, that they have the decision making authority and budget to buy it.  Yes, I’m talking about products sold to businesses but this issue is often true for consumers.

At Inquisix, we had multiple VPs of Sales tell us that they loved the product and could see rolling it out to their sales team.  At an information security company where I was first sales hunter in, the customer literally drooled at the prospect of using our software to monitor employee computer habits.  One the startups I recently met with said that they had paid betas with multiple Fortune 500 accounts.  The other startup had customers saying they loved their medical device and would buy it, all in the first meeting.  And yet each company struggled once the product was delivered.  And why?  Because your prospects, customers, partners and confidents will all encourage you even if they’re not being completely honest with you (and maybe even themselves) on why they won’t (or can’t) ultimately purchase.

At Inquisix, the VPs loved the idea of their reps getting referrals but ultimately struggled with letting them give referrals in return.  At the information security company, the senior execs would not accept a product that screamed, “We don’t trust our employees,” and thus no enterprise purchase.  And the company with the paid betas had trouble getting the betas to move to production because while they solved a problem, it wasn’t a painful problem needing solving right away.  Same with the medical device company as everyone but the patient saw the need for the device but the patient ultimately made the decision to use it or not.

So the challenge is to find a problem that needs solving NOW and is budgeted where your product’s positioning can be changed to be that problem’s solution.  At the information security company, the big pain point for many of the betas was that they had regulatory requirements to monitor applications.  So we positioned the solution to monitor applications, not people.  Thus the senior execs could say that the government required them to do the monitoring and there was a big compliance budget to solve the problem.  The new positioning led to me closing a $1M deal 6 months after the product was released.  At Inquisix, we tuned the product so that companies with business development deals between them could share referrals in a closed system.  We also partnered with in-person networking groups to use Inquisix as their group’s SFA system.  The medical device company is working with companies and organizations that require the patient to use the device or not receive reimbursement for their care.

Then how do you change your positioning?  Often your customers and prospects will tell you what you need to tell them that suddenly makes them open up their wallets.  The challenge is to differentiate between their wishful thinking and what will really make them open their wallets.

Happy Selling!

Michael

3 Responses to “Same old story, “You love me but you won’t buy…””

  1. Lance Westbrook October 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

    Michael,

    Good stuff. One of my colleagues always talks about ‘selling the bike to kid’. We have all had those deals in our forecast. The ‘kid’ wants to buy, the mom or the dad say they will buy from us – but somehow the real ‘economic buyer’ in this family is not yet sold.

    On a transaction by transaction basis the real trick to sales efficiency is reducing the time to conversation and decision to the qualified buyer for any solution.

    Your services really help to compress those cycles.

    Lance Westbrook

  2. Michael Kreppein October 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Lance,

    Thank you. It’s been a long time since our days at Sybase and I appreciate you reading and commenting on the blog.

    All the best,
    Michael

  3. raulcandeloro October 21, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    Hi Michael!

    Great article – congratulations.

    Can I reproduce the article in my sales blog (salesgiantsblog.blogger.com)?

    Tks,

    Raul Candeloro

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