Manage episode 378040833 series 2952524
Nobody in sales likes it when buyers pushback and don’t make a purchase decision. There are varying degrees of pushback though. Sometimes it might be the buyer being the Devil’s advocate trying to better assure themselves that buying would be the right decision. Other times it is just the buyer being a pain and exerting their power and authority over the sales person. Most buyers have never been salespeople, so they are coming into decision-making positions through general management or technical areas like being an engineer, HR or through the CFO route. In some cases, they don’t respect the profession of sales and look down on salespeople, even including those in their own firm. They are seeing the profession as a bunch of shiftless liars and dodgy magicians trying to con the punters.
Salespeople, at least the professional salespeople, see themselves as playing a vital role in making the wheels of commerce turn. They connect buyer and seller to the mutual benefit of both parties. “Nothing happens in business until a sale is made” is an old saw and still true today. Japan is a tough place in many regards in business but at least salespeople are not looked down upon here. My Carnegie colleagues in Taiwan have their salespeople double hat as the training instructors. They do this because in Chinese culture, the salesperson isn’t respected but the teacher gets respect, so combining the two roles together makes it easier to sell in their culture. Japan doesn’t have that bias.
Buyers in Japan though are consumed with doubt and fear. There is no upside in Japan for doing a good job and a huge downside if something goes wrong and your name is attached to it. In most cases though in sales, the buying decision is spread broadly across many sections within the company. Everyone who will be impacted by the buying decision is included in the final decision and in a way this is a great mechanism for making sure that no individual gets the blame, if it turns out badly.
It also diffuses the pushback. There may be individuals in sections within the firm, who we will never meet, who are pushing back on the offer. That makes the sales process here extremely hard, as we will never get to meet with them and allay their fears and concerns. This is why our contact point person is so important to navigate the deal through the labyrinth.
The problem is the reward for being brave and doing the hard yards is zero. They don’t get any appreciation if it goes well, no bonus, no promotion – nothing because this is just seen as part of the job. However, the penalty for pushing this deal internally and then it doesn't work is very scary. This could impact their career progression within the firm and affect them later when decisions are being made about who to promote. That means that our person has to be made to become a believer. We have a huge task ahead of us to overcome their fear of failure, their terror of errors and their pain associated with past mistakes.
Free trials and small sample testing are good antidotes to overcoming fear of failure. In this way, the product or service can be experienced. All of those people behind the scenes who are involved in the final decision can get some concrete feedback on the value of the proposition. Seeing is believing and this helps our champion to push the decision forward. The testing phase can also yield valuable information on any modifications which may be needed before they adopt the whole shooting match. The fit for the company is highly important and can be of more concern than price. If they don’t believe the fit is there, then price doesn’t matter, because the deal will not progress.
Another good idea is guarantees and warranties if the purchase doesn’t live up to expectations. In our case, we deal a lot with HR people and they are terrified that the training they choose will get complaints later and they will be held accountable. In order to overcome those fears, we use sample training and also will give a 100% guarantee that the training will cost nothing, if they are not satisfied. It is possible that some evil person will decide to use this clause to their benefit and get the training for nothing. In the thirteen years we have been offering this clause, we have never had a case where we have had to do the training for nothing.
This is Japan and generally people here are honest and their main concern is that the purchase will perform as advertised and benefit the company. I am sure there are other markets where this clause will be an invitation to misuse and ripping you off, so you have to know the mentality of the buyers before making this offer.