If you ask me about one of the most decisive turning points of my presales and sales career, it is the moment I realized that you can actually disagree with your clients!
And that they don’t walk away from you if you challenge their point of view!
But when I started in software sales, I used to believe that my clients were always right.
And that in order to build empathy, all you had to do was to agree with them at any time.
No matter if their ideas were complete and utter bullshit: I always kept nodding my head with big a smile on my face.
Saying something like: Wow, that’s a great idea – I would totally do the same!
Trying to avoid conflicts in software sales
I was the perfect example of a „Yes Man“, trying to avoid conflicts at all costs to boost my clients‘ confidence in their purchase decision.
I would have never dared to challenge their point of view and instead, tell them exactly what they wanted to hear.
Mostly because I was scared that they would walk away from me and buy from someone else who agreed with them.
The dangerous thing about this approach? I was digging my own grave without even noticing.
I was totally capable of building a good personal connection with my buying champions.
And I never heard them say anything negative about my sales approach.
Being nice does not mean you are successful
But for some reason, my numbers told a completely different story.
And this started a vicious cycle – the more desperate I was to close new business, the needier and conflict avoidant I became.
Everybody agreed that I was very likeable, but I just had the feeling that my clients were not taking me very seriously at all.
I was a nice footnote, but I did not add any value to my clients business objectives besides the usual product capabilities.
And I hardly had any control over their selection process.
At one point in time, I couldn’t stand myself any longer.
I really had to change something and I decided to take a big leap!
I said to myself: next time a prospect comes up with another stupid idea, you are going to tell them the plain truth.
I’d rather be honest and genuine, than being this spineless puppet.
And from this moment on, things changed for the better!
Instead of being upset with me because I disagreed with them, my clients were actually super thankful for my advice!
Most of them had never been through a similar process and project before. So they were more than appreciative for all my guidance.
And not a single client ever walked away because I challenged their plans.
Quite the contrary, I was able to bond with my clients on a completely different level.
I wasn’t just this nice dude any longer that was fun to talk to.
By constantly anticipating obstacles and enabling them to navigate their buying journey, I finally became their trusted advisor.
And ultimately, was capable of adding true customer value in addition to just being a product expert.
You can make the difference in B2B software sales
To summarize this post:
It turns out our clients don’t want to buy from „Yes-Sayers“ that only repeat what the client wants to hear.
If you want to become their trusted advisor, you need to genuinely care about your clients‘ goals – both their personal and business-related objectives.
And this requires you to raise your hand and disagree with your client if they are about to commit a mistake.
This is our duty in presales and what differentiates the good from the great. And what adds true customer value in a competitive market landscape!