When you provide options to your customer, you are letting the customer buy from you versus you selling to them. When presented with options, the customer has a say in what they are buying. They actually get to choose the best solution for them. What a concept! You’ve also signaled to the customer that you are flexible and that you want to provide the best solution for the client. It’s not just “my way or the highway,” which is how customers feel when presented with only one proposal from you.
You can also use options to advance your sales and corporate strategy. For example, if your typical selling motion is to “land and expand,” then you can provide options that include the “land” option, but other options that show the customer what a future business relationship could look like. In other words, they get a glimpse of what the “expand” might look like and can start socializing and budgeting for those larger deals.
Below are screenshots of a resource that allows you to clearly show opportunities for growth within an existing customer relationship. By visually showing the customer their options, they have the ability to explore potential opportunities with you.
Four months ago, a client of mine used this approach and their customer quickly signed up for the smaller “expand” deal. My client performed so well on that initial deal that the customer quickly decided to move into a larger “expanded” business relationship. The customer was able to quickly make this decision and garner the necessary funding, because they knew the costs and the option they chose was built around an outcome the customer wanted to quickly achieve. In other words, because each option was built around different business outcomes for the customer, it was easy for them to justify the expense and gain approval within their organization.
Here is another situation where providing options led to a faster deal. Another client was faced with a real dilemma. The prospective customer was not aligned internally on what they wanted to achieve. There was a fairly divergent view of what the best approach might be, and those different views were held by the business operations team and the IT organization of the customer. Of course, you can’t do one deal with operations and another with IT or another with procurement.
In this case, my client presented them with options on how they might proceed. By getting the business operations team and IT in the same room, and giving them options to consider, both teams focused on the potential outcomes of the options and could discuss the merits of each. This proved successful as it gave each team something to focus on rather than each other. The result was a deal closed that met the important needs of both teams and achieved the critical outcomes. In other words, the options got the two teams to focus more on the “What” they needed to achieve than to argue on the “How” they would achieve it.
If you are still providing your customers with only one option, then you are potentially adding unnecessary risk to your selling success. Who knows, you might also be missing out on bigger and better deals.
Steve is the founder of Value Lifecycle, a strategy consulting firm, with clientele representing over 100 diverse industries. He has over 33 years of experience in operations, sales, sales management, purchasing, and executive management. After working extensively on both the selling and buying side of the equation, Steve brings a unique perspective to the challenges facing his clients as they define and execute their business strategies. Steve have consulted, trained, and implemented both strategic and tactical buying and selling programs in all major North American market centers, as well as Europe, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.