Have you ever visited an art gallery? Did you ever talk to one of the salespeople... I mean docents?
I have. Know what I noticed? The gallery docent sells an abstract product, just like software sellers do.
The art isn't abstract because it's intangible like software. It's abstract because you buy it based on your feelings for it, instead of for what it does. When a product is abstract, you must LOVE it or you'll never buy it.
Art Sales and the Application of Influence
So how do art gallery docents get you to love the product? They skillfully apply the six levers of influence from Robert Cialdini's book Influence: Science and Practice. Here's how:
They position themselves as objective art lovers with deep subject knowledge.
They leverage their implied credibility to teach you "insights" about the work, artist, subject matter, color palette, materials, composition, etc.
They position themselves as authoritative so that you seek their guidance.
They ask you what you like about the product. What does it make you feel? What does it say to you? Where might you display it in your home? Who might you share it with?
They get you to make public statements of your intention.
They tell you how well this artist is selling. They drop a few names of people who also like the work.
They provide you with compelling social proof of value. You want to join that group of cool people.
They offer you drinks or snacks. They ask about your day, where you're from, what you've got planned next. If you're a tourist, they offer advice for getting more from your visit.
They "give" you something. And you feel the need to give back (by buying art).
They tell you how "limited" this particular piece of art is: how hard to get, how few were made, how long it takes to produce. You can't just get this stuff anywhere, you know. You feel lucky for the chance to buy it.
When they close the sale, they compliment you on what a wonderful purchase you've made. They assure you that you'll enjoy it. You've joined an exclusive club of impressive people that own art. You feel privileged.
They seem to have interests similar to yours. They find common ground that you share. They listen to your opinions and share relevant comments. They find your point of view compelling.
Your apparent similarity makes you trust them. You walk out of the gallery feeling like you've made a new friend.
You didn't just buy the art. You bought the art from a person you liked.
Too Bad That Won't Work in B2B Software Sales
Imagine what you could do with the skills of the art gallery docent. It's all very exciting! So how can you apply these techniques to selling software?
Well, there's some great lessons here, but before you try them in B2B software sales there's a few hurdles to surmount. THREE, to be exact.
You see, software isn't like anything else. Not even close.
For thousands of years people traded, bartered, and bought commodities that had:
- common, objective understandings of value
- simple, one-to-one sales transactions
- little or no after-sales involvement
Then in the middle of the 20th century, software came into existence... and everything changed.
First, Tackle the THREE CHALLENGES of B2B Software Sales
Software doesn't conform to any of those attributes. It's not just a little different, it's EXACTLY the OPPOSITE.
That creates the THREE CHALLENGES of B2B software sales:
- Unique Product demanding explicit agreement of value
- Complex Sale comprising fragile, compound parts
- Continuous Service requiring constant customer interaction
What's this mean to you?
BEFORE you can apply Cialdini's ingenious levers of influence (or any other sales techniques) to your B2B software sales, FIRST you need to understand how to counteract the THREE CHALLENGES.
Sucks, huh? What are you going to do with all the sales books, blog articles, and YouTube videos you've collected if they won't work for B2B software sales?
Don't fret. It's your lucky day.
In Software Sales School's new course SF-100 | Confront the Three Challenges of B2B Software Sales you'll learn how to align your sales efforts with the challenges and make them work to your advantage.
As a bonus, I've included the Sales Growth Dashboard. Companies have paid me $10,000 to develop assessment tools like this. Here's what it does for you:
- ASSESS how well you handle the THREE CHALLENGES today
- QUALIFY the possible sales improvement of deploying B2B software sales best practices
- QUANTIFY the potential ROI of investing to accelerate your sales
It's a compact, elegant tool. I hope you find its insights extremely useful.
Next, Go On With Your Day!
Once you educate yourself about the THREE CHALLENGES and implement B2B software sales best practices, you can augment your sales process with great techniques like Cialdini's levers of influence.
But without the SPECIFIC framework in place for software sales, any tips & tricks you pick up will utterly fail. Maybe you've already experienced that. Now you know why.
Don't stay trapped by the THREE CHALLENGES, unaware of what's possible for your business. Break through the barriers to B2B software sales success TODAY.