The Other Side of the Selling Equation

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From Wikipedia: In mathematics, an equation is an equality containing one or more variables. Solving the equation consists of determining which values of the variables make the equality true.

Your sales equation might look like this: good price + right product + favorable terms + good relationship – competition = win. And like Wikipedia says, determining the values is what will result in that win.

On the opposite side of the opportunity, the buyer’s equation might look like this: need + budget + authority + product + trust – hype = buy. And the buyer has the same problem of establishing the values of his variables before he chooses.

It is this buyer’s equation that most salespeople ignore. They do that because it isn’t something they can control, and usually not even influence or understand. But what good is it to identify all of your variables and come up with the exact right values if the buyer doesn’t have the budget? Or authority, or need, or any of the other variables. These are critical pieces of information that you must be researching throughout the sales cycle because, first, knowing the answers affects the values in your equation.

And second, knowing those values will affect how much time and effort you put into solving your equation. This is the “will it happen” factor, and if you’re going to succeed, then you need to give it the appropriate attention. And you need to do that throughout the sales cycle because things always change. Some new manager decides the budget is better spent elsewhere, or a new solution or different business climate makes the need disappear. Or whatever.

Learning the values of these variables is no more difficult than learning the values of your variables, you just have to do the research, ask the questions, observe the customer and the competition. In other words, you just have to remember that there are two sides to every opportunity – yours and theirs. And it is their side that controls everything.

The sales cycle is, by its nature, a reflection of the buying cycle. Without a buying cycle, there is no sales cycle. The buyer decides what to buy, when to buy, where to buy, etc. The successful salesperson gauges his sales cycle and his strategy and tactics on the buying cycle, doing the appropriate things at the right time and using skills that successfully implement the tactics.

Keep the buying cycle front and center in your mind as you work your sales cycle. Otherwise, you’ll find that sometimes you’re setting yourself up to win a sale that won’t happen.

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