The fear of loss is the biggest driver of human behavior - Kahneman/Tversky’s Prospect Theory
In the old world of software sales there were many traditional leverage points a seller had during the qualification/discovery process, here are 4 that I will focus on based on my experience:
- When to show the product and bring a sales consultant (SC) into the conversation
- When to discuss pricing and offer a proposal
- When to deploy key executives to discuss vision alignment
- When to show the roadmap and talk through a buyer’s potential influence over it
This allowed software sellers to generally maintain the upper-hand in the early stages of a deal: They were the gatekeeper and the prospect needed them to open the doors necessary to make the purchase. But in a world where pricing is displayed transparently and prospects are demanding to understand (docs) and use (trial) a product before putting the real money down, the leverage has shifted back in the direction of buyers.
That’s tough. Leverage is key when negotiating and something that you want to have consistently through your sales motion. Without leverage, you lose a lot of your ability to get at the information need to successfully qualify. Take a framework like MEDDPICC (the more modern version of MEDDIC):
In the world where a seller held a bunch of the puzzle pieces necessary to get a deal done, filling this out wasn’t overly difficult. But as the tables have turned, sellers are finding it more difficult to get the answers directly from their buyers. Luckily, there’s another—even better—way to run this qualification process and that’s using customer data. In fact, I’d argue this offers a seller even more leverage than they had in the past. You now have their time and attention—what could be more valuable during a sales process?
Use this time as new leverage as you work them through your product and connect its value to your pricing.
To get a prospect’s time you need to have a plan around your trial (or POC, POV, or whatever else you might call the dating period before you end up getting married). Laying out the key interactions of the customer on this journey can also give you a sense of what you want to see and where you know the customer will need to invest time to show you they are serious.
To go a step further, let’s take the MEDDIC framework and think about where customer data should be complimenting each area:
- M—Does the product usage reflect the key metrics you have discussed, if not how do you change that?
- E—Is the Economic Buyer in and around the product? Are they checking out your pricing page? If not, how can you assume your pricing is understood and they can agree to value metrics laid out? If your product and qualification doesn’t allow for an economic buyer to be using it and/or the economic buyer is focused on outcomes more than features/functionality, do you have an empowered proxy that is in the product?
- D—Is the Decision Criteria that you agreed to playing out in product usage? Another note, you want to be mindful that some product usage might be detrimtenal to your desired outcome, make sure you have clarity with the customer and inernally with what you are seeing in the product.
- D—Is the Decision Process following how the product usage is going? Do you have a concept of a PQL (Product Qualified Lead) to know that the customer has done the type of product actions that typically lead to conversions/positive outcomes?
- I—Are you using product usage to showcase how pain has been relieved/solved and also showcasing how even more product usage will create even more pain relief? Do you have customer examples of product usage that reflects a similar pain you can draw upon?
- C—Is the Champion in the product? If no, should they be, or do they have a proxy in the product? Have you created specific product milestones around them so they are alerted to the fact that they are in fact a champion?
Customer data is the ultimate signal to whether or not your customer is investing their time. Talking to a customer is one thing, seeing them work in the product is something much bigger. As your traditional leverage goes away, find a new way to get your prospects invested and as you can quantify this information and time, realize your MEDDIC framework can be stronger than ever.
Thanks to Laura Erdem, Joe Gannon, Jacquelyn Nicholson, Tony Granados and Nadav Gross (not related but great last name) for reading a draft of this post and influencing my thinking.