Oftentimes during the sales process, I end up feeling like I am over-sharing. If I’m asked for my expertise, I really want to help so I have a hard time not giving it. I understand there’s a line to walk between "relationship building" and "being taken advantage of for my expertise." How do I gauge if I am giving away too much information in the sales process, and what can I do to avoid this?
Answers from the Experts:
The real problem is giving away too much information too soon in the process. The consequences of this “Unpaid Consulting” are both frustrating and costly. Salespeople who act like most others and “Spill their candy in the lobby” train their prospects to treat them like all the others. They get used. Too often the end result is a lot of lost business and “unlimited access to the buyer’s voice mail”. Why should buyers return calls when they were already given everything they need? It’s an easy trap to fall into, because premature presentation is a whole lot easier than real selling, which is heavy on qualifying - before the presentation, the bid, or the proposal is given. If you sense you are over-sharing and being taken advantage of, it most likely has become an ingrained part of your selling process. You may want to start today to re-program your thinking. Prospects have to earn the right to get your information and you have to earn the right to give it.
Ken Stark, President, Sandler Training Stark & Associates
Build good relationships with people, and understand the motivation behind the questions. You will disclose certain things to a buyer because, most of the time, they’re examining YOU and your firm’s capabilities, processes and competitive advantages or disadvantages. Informed buyers are a good thing, and we’ll share knowledge in normal discourse. How much knowledge is key. It comes down to the level of trust you’ve developed, both ways. If they trust you, normal Q and A is routine. (Remember: they report to someone who will ask the same questions). If you feel uneasy about sharing certain information, it’s probably because you have not yet won their trust, and they have not won yours. It’s a fine line, and more often than not, we have to go with our gut instincts when we’re in a spot like this…but someone has to play their hand first. Relationship building is the key!
Ed Anderson, executive vice president, Miken Technology