• Are we heading into another recession?
  • What impact will this have on my company?
  • Will our sales goals change?
  • What changes will I need to make in my go to market plan?
  • What purchases of products or services can or should I delay?
  • How long will this last?
  • What will it mean for me?
  • Where can I quickly reduce spending?


What does it all really mean?  If you were fortunate enough to have an offering that had a line item in a budget, or at least were competing for budget, its’ likely gone.  Selling methodologies like Solution Selling, SPIN, Needs Based or Consultative selling engaged the buyer in a discovery conversation, with the goal being to discover a need and create budget to address that need.  Buyers are attuned to these approaches but with the economic environment as it is, the need is not compelling enough to create budget or move forward.


What’s the alternative?  Provocation selling. We start by finding the pain, broken business process, industry weakness or competitive disadvantage.   This puts the burden on the seller to find it, quantify it and get to the highest level decision maker, where you share your case and hypothesis.  This “pain” is something that they are experiencing but have not yet been able to clearly articulate.


In my last post I outlined the three steps of the provocation selling strategy: Identify the problem, develop a provocative point of view, and lodge the provocation with a decision maker.  Today, let’s explore these steps in more detail.


So how do you……


  • Help the customer to find the pain (the provocation)?  Andrew Spoeth  along with Kathleen Schaub wrote a great post on this subject.  They state that it starts with research.  They recommend you look at your current customer base to find your biggest cheerleaders to give testimonials and then to unearth financial analysis that forecasts pain.
  • Develop the provocative point of view?  It begins with a hypothesis around which a compelling story is woven.  Using benchmarks and other empirical data, you can quickly point out root causes. The customer might not necessarily feel it yet so illustrate how those root causes will affect long term goals.
  • Lodge the provocation with the decision maker?  This may be the toughest one, as your traditional contact may or may not be the decision maker for purchases not budgeted at the beginning of the fiscal year.  Using your network to find and get in front of the decision maker is key.  Once there, communicating your hypothesis is key.  Show the decision maker your evidence and explain how you can help before the pain sets in.


If you can explain and prevent the pain, you will have gained the trust (and order) of your customer.


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