Thursday, March 10, 2011

Houston, we have a problem.


When do point out holes in your solution to potential customers? Right up front, or do you play the pray game? Pray they never bring it up, so you can keep selling? This is not the Army, don't ask don’t tell doesn’t work here.

So let’s talk upside and down side of each option. First the upsides, by not pointing out holes you should have a smother quicker close. Less technical discussions. You are able to show more perceived value. If you point out the gaps, you are showing you are an ethical person and company. You show your expertise. You identify deal killers quick.

Downside? By not pointing out the holes, the customer finds them. Lots of lost time in the deal. Thinks you are unethical. You lose the deal. You lose a customer. Pointing them out, you lose the deal. So if the risk is losing the deal in both choices, why not do the right thing?

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about explaining every possible thing you can’t or don’t do. If in the discovery process you uncover needs that your solution does not fully address, you should point those out. Once the gaps are on the table, we can talk about what we do, what we don’t and the work arounds. Then we ask, is this a deal killer? Most of the time it is no. Now we continue the sales process with confidence, we are hiding nothing. If it is a deal killer, this is the time to find out.

Why you ask? ROI for the lead. If we have invested a couple of hours on a call and blow a deal up, we have invested very little. What if I wait till the end of a 60 day sales cycle. 20-40 hours of technical non-billable hours, travel expenses, it goes on and on. So the sooner you identify the holes, the longer you have to fix them. If they can’t be fixed, the process cost far less.