The Sales Hourglass: The New Way to Approach Selling

May 15, 2014


This post was drawn from the teachings contained in Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer Sell Like a Superstar, by John Jantsch.

The Sales Hourglass is about taking customers and prospects on a journey they weren’t aware they were going to travel. I’m talking about a dramatic shift in the sales process. It’s not about tricking the customer or wasting their time; quite the opposite. It’s about making sure they arrive at the most helpful destination of all. If we look at our job like we are going on a journey with our customer, instead of simply leading them, it can really make the entire sales process quite a remarkable one.

Today’s sale process must be focused on collaboration. It’s important to have an approach that’s infused with a greater understanding of the customer and really start to understand what steps they take before they decide to buy. Today’s sales people need to look outside the box and ahead to solutions for problems that the marketplace doesn’t know exist.

Instead of the typical sales approach that is something like this: salesperson digs for pain, presents a solution, handles objections, proposes a purchase, wrestles with terms, handles more objections and then goes in for the close…or the adaptive approach which is controlling the buying process itself and how a decision is made—what about the alternative to either of those approaches? How about the organization or individual who defines the problem to begin with? Instead of winning the fight for “why choose us?” let’s control the fight for “why choose anything?” You must personalize your organization’s value proposition with your client’s on a case-by-case basis.

Make solutions easy

We’ve probably all been there; you think you are about to close the deal and the buyer walks away without a real explanation for why they chose not to buy. They don’t go with a cheaper price or another company, they just don’t do anything at all. The bigger the deal, the bigger this issue becomes. And it’s frustrating.

But I want you to think of your own personal buying experience. What stops you from making a purchase if you set out to do so but changed your mind? I would bet it’s one of these 3 common deal busters: you’re either not convinced something will work, you fear the risk of change is too high, or the solution proposed seems complicated. It’s the same issue even when dealing with large companies and organizations. The more they’ve been proven right on these fears, the harder it will be to get them to change their habits.

Help buyers release these fears and be open to committing to buying. They will do this if you make the problems visible and quantifiable and work to build solutions with them.

Teaching sells

I’ve said it before and have no problem saying it again. I urge you to write, speak, and educate as an expert in your field. Using these practices will make you more equipped to help find and address problems your client might not even know exist.

Also, people like to be warned of problems and issues with something they were considering purchasing or have already purchased but are now frustrated that something isn’t working as they were promised. When you present your findings and teach your clients and others in the industry what solutions you came up with, you will see a higher level of ongoing feedback.

Defining it

Think of the Sales Hourglass as your individual prospect playbook, the tool that will help you tailor your sales method for each client. It works to help the prospect or customer engage in the specific process of buying. But it is also about a mutual understanding between yourself and the prospect that there might not be a deal closure in the end at all, and that’s okay.

Your sales manager might be having a fit hearing that, but it’s true. Not every prospect is a good fit. Sometimes getting a no quickly can be quite beneficial because it saves you time and wasted effort.

Merely introducing the Sales Hourglass road map to a prospect will allow you to stand out as it introduces valuable steps not often taken by traditional sales professionals. I believe that your prospects will value and appreciate this approach. I also believe that these steps actually demonstrate not only a better way to sell, but also a better way to buy.

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about the author

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