In an exchange relationship between working professionals, there are a myriad of tactics, tools and techniques that can help persuade the other party to better align with your way of thinking. While these tools should never be implemented to coerce a buyer into a detrimental relationship for the seller’s gain, they can be used to help expedite a positive process that benefits both parties involved while simultaneously demonstrating the value needed to help a buyer realize the unique and helpful skills you bring to the table. There are six core tenets that can be utilized to manage the exchange relationship: social liberation, helping relationships, commitment, countering, environmental controls, and rewards. We encourage you to visit a prior episode of the Aligned Podcast explaining the nuances and benefits of gifting, i.e., rewards. Here, however, we will focus on the significance and power of environmental management, one of the most underutilized tools that can actually help sellers close more deals and build a scalable sales pipeline.
Managing environmental controls in the sales relationship
As an action-oriented focus, the power of environmental controls grows more impactful the further into the buyer’s journey a customer falls. Why is this? Because environmental controls help a seller understand what changes need to occur (or perhaps even must occur) to help the deal move forward. In the initial stages of ideation within the sales cycle, many buyers naturally drop off because of reasons beyond the seller’s control and because environmental controls largely don’t play a part in those factors. It is a misuse of funding and time to try and sway early-stage prospects that just aren’t interested in purchasing. Environmental controls are meaningful to more people than just the individuals involved in the sales discussion—the controls should impact other people within the buyer's organization. The facets of environmental management are most effective for mid-to-late-stage prospecting purely because of their effect on reducing the probability of problem causing events. When included at the appropriate time, road blocks are often easily removed and more deals actually close.
Within the overall scope of environmental management, there are several specific factors that fall within the category: headspace, avoidance, cues, buyer’s retreats, gifting and others. When it comes to implementation, understanding at what point you should use these tactics on a potential buyer is important and necessary to help it work to your (the seller’s) benefit. When it comes down to it, you’re asking the buyer to restructure their own environment and remove or change bad behaviors and actions. These changes go far beyond the physical space in which the deal takes place; this involves the full scope of the buyer; the seller; and the physical, mental and emotional needs surrounding the deal.
Managing multiple perspectives within one organization
The modern era of selling is (in part) known for pulling multiple people into the sales conversation. What once was a one-on-one sales process is now a multilayered deal consisting of interacting with and winning over multiple decision makers within the same company. Not only does this prolong and extend the sales cycle, but this shifting process also means the seller must know how to bring forth the information and emotional arousal that best convinces each of these specific decision makers to be on board with the deal. Cultivating a relationship with each decision maker involved in the conversation means the seller must preemptively identify what elements might cause each buyer to pause within the sales cycle and address those needs.
When managing several personalities within a buyer organization, there are multiple ways sellers can minimize the impact a lack of relationship might cause. Using the relationships developed with other decision makers within the organization and the industry is a powerful way to help cultivate relationships quickly because you’re utilizing a pre-vetting process to make the selling process progress more smoothly.
Overcoming buyer’s pain
Sellers aren’t just selling the prospect and their organization on the solution; they’re selling the prospect on the pain relief that would accompany the purchase of your solution. As Theodore Levitt puts it best, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
There are three types of pain experienced by the buyer: financial, strategic and personal. Identifying which form of pain each decision maker is experiencing and how your solution can solve it is critical. Because there isn’t just one pain affecting the entire organization, the circumstances revolving around every deal are far more nuanced.
When addressing the mindset component of environmental management, helping the client understand the way they can use and implement the process to address their specific pain is how a seller can successfully maneuver the conversation to close the deal. This is especially true within tech and other industries that offer heavily detailed solutions particular to the buyer—the more you (as a seller) can address and overcome the buyer’s needs, the more successful you’ll be.
Our podcast, The Aligned Podcast, is dedicated to helping emerging and middle-market businesses thrive and develop the sales and marketing acumen to move the needle. Tune into our episode featuring sales expert and founder of The Sales Evangelist, Donald Kelly, to learn more about managing environmental controls within an exchange relationship and how anyone can fine-tune their sales process to close more deals.