Five reasons you won’t win business

What to do when buyers are not saying ‘yes’

By David Tovey

Success_FailureThe famous Zig Ziglar once wrote that there are five obstacles to gaining a sale, no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.

Many organisations at that time went about developing training courses to overcome ‘objections’ under each of the obstacles headings as they sought to find short cuts to closing a deal. In my own sales career I was even provided with an encapsulated A4 sheet of ‘smart’ responses to reel out anytime a customers indicated they had no need, no money, no hurry, no desire or no trust. Each time I look at that sheet I’m embarrassed by how manipulative and sometimes less than truthful some of the techniques were.

The five reasons you won’t win business still apply, how you deal with them in the 21st Century needs to be different.

A 21st Century response required

In the 21st Century when a seller pushes a product or service or uses any sales technique then todays buyers automatic response is to resist. Today’s buyer is just too sophisticated and aware to be taken in by persuasive sales or marketing techniques.

If you hear words that suggest that a prospect is giving you one or more of the obstacles to winning business it’s not smart words you need, it’s insightful questioning and intelligent listening that’s needed. Only when you fully understand the prospects real situation can you hope to respond in the most appropriate way.

No need

Establishing a prospects needs and wants comes from a deep understanding of their world. Insightful questions and intelligent, mindful listening not only help the seller but they also help the potential buyer. Rather that pushing an idea (which often results in resistance) the best salespeople let prospects discover for themselves what their real needs and wants are.

That way the potential buyer is motivated to buy rather than persuaded to buy by the seller. A much better basis for a long-term profitable relationship.

No money

If you have chosen your target prospects well then it is unlikely they can’t actually afford your product or service. It may be that they haven’t budgeted for a particular expense but that’s not the same thing as having ‘no’ money.

Understanding that people have ‘wants’ as well as ‘needs’ and building relationships with buyers motivated to buy from you who also have the authority to re-direct budgets is the key here.

No hurry

The most embarrassing technique, and one of the least trusted in the 21st Century, that I was encouraged to employ in the past is the attempt to create some sort of false urgency. You’ve heard them all. The offer that only applies today, impending price increase, the product is in short supply etc.

Lets get one thing straight – the buyer is always in charge of timing. The more sellers use techniques to hurry things along the less likely a buyer is to be motivated to buy. Sales people who use ‘hurry up’ techniques just look and sound desperate.

A seller with a full pipeline of well-chosen prospects never feels under pressure to ‘close’ business too soon. They understand early in the sales process the buyers’ decision-making process and their decision-making criteria and therefore how long it might take to arrive at a final decision. Of course the more a customer is motivated to buy the more likely they are to make a positive decision.

No desire

Desire is an emotional response closely linked to a customers motivations and ‘wants’. In terms of motivation human beings are more motivated to move away from undesirable outcomes (losing something) than move toward gaining something. All buyers want to reduce risk and ironically making a decision to move towards a particular solution, better supplier or even a better price can be seen as a risk.

The job of the seller is to get under the skin of the prospect, find out the issues that are under the iceberg and fully understand how to minimise the perceived risk of doing and maximise the benefits of business with you.

No trust

Winning business starts and ends with building trust. No trust = no sale.

Be congruent throughout the whole sales process, making sure that what your web site and marketing materials say is what customers actually experience. Do business with integrity, ethics and a conscience and trust will never be an issue.

Cross Selling

The toughest nut to crack?

By David Tovey


I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked if I could help ‘fix’ a firms cross-selling problems. Most firms have loyal clients buying services from competitors that they themselves could provide and senior managers often see this as lucrative business they should chase.

Many firm instigate cross-selling initiatives, encouraging their people to ‘get out there and refer your colleagues’ or ‘get out there and sell’ – only to find that nothing much changes.

 Grasp the nettle

In fact most cross selling initiatives fail because firms fail to grasp the nettle of business development, cultural and leadership changes that are needed to significantly affect fee income.

The worst kept secret is that every professional advisory firm is trying to win more business. Clients know partners and managers have business development responsibilities. If fee earners don’t want to be seen as mere pedlars of professional services the first thing they need to ensure is that the client’s best interests are at the heart of any cross-selling activity. (Continue Reading…)

Kill the initiative – live the philosophy

Avoiding initiative fatigue

By David Tovey

Great_workI’m really fortunate. I get to work with some great people in great organisations. I frequently get to facilitate off site strategy meetings with senior managers at fabulous locations in the UK and internationally.

Strategic planning meetings are really important. They give the senior team time away from the business to focus on the future away from the pressures and detail of day to day issues. As we consultants are fond of saying, “it gives senior managers and business owners time to work on the business instead of in the business”.

As the economy strengthens there is inevitably more competition for customers, clients and employees across all sectors. It’s usually not long before the senior team is talking about the need to be a more customer focused business and the need to attract and retain the best people.

There is undoubtedly a connection between recruiting and retaining great people and business success. I’m firmly in the people first, customer’s second camp. Look after your people and they will look after your business and your customers. (Continue Reading…)