Oliver was excited. He loved his new role in QED Solutions’ Large Clients Group. QED created enterprise software for heavy engineering companies. It had a great name for quality, was versatile and could handle the entire workflow. From order processing, procurement process, logistics to finance and documentation, it could take care of everything. All of Oliver’s friends had said that selling QED to engineering giants should be a piece of cake “Of course there will be multiple stakeholders when you sell to large corporations. But that’s the whole fun. Convince each one of your value proposition, build a consensus and bingo, the sale is yours” they had said. Except that Oliver’s first deal did not quite live up to that. After multiple discussions with procurement, production, finance, logistics and technology teams, Oliver had got an in principle okay from every one. The chief procurement officer had proposed a meeting of all stakeholders for a final sign off. And that was when the whole thing unraveled. Oliver was astonished at the positions that stakeholders took at the meeting. Production wanted new functionalities, finance pressed for price reduction and technology demanded more customization. The deal was a non-starter. What had gone wrong?
Why do individual stakeholders, who seem so sweet and favourable in one-on-one meetings, turn into such unreasonable antagonists or indifferent onlookers when you make a group-selling pitch? Psychologists would put it down to their sense of ‘being watched’ and perhaps their need to prove absence of bias. So, what is the one thing you can do to prevent this from happening?
The answer, as with any aspect of selling, is quite simple. Plan and plan ahead. And the best way to do this to analyse the participant profiles. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who will take part?
- Who could be influenced to participate? (Or stay away?)
- What do these people think?
- What do they know?
- What do they expect?
- What is their attitude?
- What are their interests/ motivation?
- Who is likely to be an ally? Opponent? Neutral or indifferent?
- How can these people be led, influenced or guided? Frequently used methods of influencing include – Seating, audio visual design, questions, samples, references
- Who should you take with you from your side?
Analyse the answers to these questions. That would give you an insight into the “role expectations” the meeting participants may have. By virtue of their status, position, competence or personality you can expect every participant to play a certain role or part at the meeting.
Being aware of these role expectations will avoid unpleasant surprises and will also help devise strategies to overcome challenges as and when they arise. Managing ‘role expectations’ is key to successful group selling.
To learn more about managing challenges in Group Selling, access Mercuri Insight on “How to overcome the 3 challenges of group selling” here.
Can you now make out what went wrong for Oliver?