By Paul Reilly

In business (and everywhere else), how often do you hear, “Keep it simple!” It makes sense, right? Try not to complicate things. But when assessing the buyer’s needs, keeping it simple doesn’t work. If a buyer has simple needs, then any generic solution will do. When discussing the buyer’s needs, keep it complex!

Buyers rely on mental shortcuts to make complex decisions. Buyers oversimplify their needs to expedite the decision-making process. They simplify the complex because it takes less effort. These mental shortcuts bypass your value added and go directly to price.

Price-sensitive buyers also value-strip solutions, stripping down all of those layers of value to your solution’s most basic, naked core-commodity purchase. For example, one of my clients sells high-end, technical industrial painting and coating services. A procurement manager referred to their specialty services as the equivalent of “slapping paint on steel.” How commoditized. When buyers value-strip, it’s easier to focus the conversation on price.

As a value-added seller, remind the buyer of the complexity of their needs. When that happens, buyers are more open to your value-added solution. Enlarge the conversation beyond price. Keeping it simple keeps the conversation focused on price. Keep it complex so you can focus the conversation on value. Here are three tips to help you enlarge the conversation.

Ask bigger questions

Generic questions further commoditize your solution. Instead, ask bigger questions to expand the buyer’s mind. Probe into the buyer’s critical needs and concerns. Ask questions to elicit a better conversation or discuss the full scope of the buyer’s needs. Discuss the impact their decision has on other functional areas of the business:

  • What are the mission-critical issues for this project?
  • Describe the full scope of this project and your concerns.
  • How will this decision impact operations, marketing, engineering, etc.?

Tell a compelling story

Storytelling is critical for salespeople. Storytelling is more than sharing examples, it’s also sharing the emotional impact in your examples. Humans don’t just use reason and logic to make decisions, they use emotion. So, buyers need more than facts and figures to make decisions. When you share examples, also share the emotional impact your solution had on the buyer.

Sell a bundled package

Any commoditized product becomes a unique offering when bundled with your value-added extras. Your solution is an amalgamated package of the product, your company, and you—the salesperson. You, the salesperson, are an inseparable part of your total solution. Explain to your buyer the value you and your company provide. Buying the same product from a different company and salesperson is a completely different package. What value would the buyer forego if they decided to buy your product/service from another provider?

Simplifying your buyer’s needs leads to simple, generic solutions. Simple solutions encourage the buyer to focus on price. Buyers who are aware of the complexity of their needs are more open to your value-added solution. When assessing your buyer’s needs, keeping it simple doesn’t work. Enlarge the conversation and make the buyer aware of their complex needs.

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