Depressed businessman

I’m up to reason #5 today of the 10 Ways to Lose . . . Even When You’re the Best.  Let’s start with a reminder of what this is all about.  Every day I talk to clients who say some version of this:  “I don’t understand.  We clearly had the best proposal, at a great price.  Why did they go with someone else?”

It’s so important to understand how and why this happens.  It comes down to fear on the buyers’ part.  They would rather make a more conventional choice that is “good enough” than go out on a limb for a truly superior choice.  Happens every day!  And you, as the seller, contribute in a number of ways to their fear.

Here is reason #5 that you lose:  Your message is “overkill.”

When you are the best, and you know it, there’s a great temptation to document all the ways and all the reasons for which you are the best. That kind of message can backfire because it’s too hard to follow, too hard to understand, and especially too hard for your buyers to explain to their bosses.

You’ve failed to give them a clear and simple message of the value as expressed, including an analysis cost versus price.  If you spend much time talking about your benefits and advantages, they will think that you don’t understand them or even don’t care about them and their concerns.  And your champions will be at a loss for what to take upline.

You need to spend much more time listening to them and what they need rather than telling them what you can offer.  All of your marketing slicks, brochures, detailed website and related materials can backfire if you don’t zero in on the two or three salient points that will make a difference to most buyers and especially the one that you’re talking to now.

The overkill problem is most evident when there is a big gap between sales and marketing.  The marketing team is focused on documenting all of your company’s many benefits, while the sales team is listening for feedback from the buyers–which is not focused on those benefits after the initial conversations.  Further, the buyers have already informed themselves about you and your services long before they talk to you, so they are ready to talk only about them.

A simple message, simply stated, repeated in a variety of ways to a variety of people, complete with subject matter experts telling the same story, and a few simple tools to help your buyers move the story forward, will move you several steps forward ahead of your competitors.

There’s a version of this called “too good to be true.”  I’ve worked with a global company that provides spend management services, and I learned from their sales team that they sometimes lose exactly the deals where they can demonstrate the biggest cost savings and the highest ROI.  The buyers simply don’t believe them.  It’s overkill.

Have you ever lost a deal through overkill?  We’d love to hear about it and how you overcame it next time.