You’re Not Just A Stop On Their Buyer Journey After All
Your buyer will do their homework. Before they reach out to learn more, they’ve looked at your website, read reviews and flipped through your social channels. So when they contact you, it’s to ask a specific question about how you can help them – not to get sucked into your sales process. This course is all about the buyer experience and expectations, and what you can do to translate those into a conversation that converts
Meet The Buyer Course Modules:
- Managing the Buyer Experience
- Managing the Buyer Expectations
- Drive Deals with Conversational Fluency
- Demo Foundations
Managing The Buyer Expectations Interview Transcript:
Joseph Fung: Thanks, everyone, for joining us. I’m so lucky to have Mike Mensink here. The VP of sales from RouteThis, and we’re going to be speaking about ‘Managing the Buyer Expectations’. Mike, thank you so much for joining us. I know, we’ve had the chance to get to know each other since your time at D2L. You’re in an exciting new role. Thanks for sharing your experience about buyers’ expectations with us today.
Mike Mensink: Thank you so much for having me.
Joseph Fung: So I thought we’d start off with a nice at softball question, you know, kind of big picture, managing a buyer expectations in the selling process. Why is it so important? You know, what happens if we don’t manage those expectations properly?
Mike Mensink: Yeah, I mean, I think right out of the gate, the most important thing is that you always, no matter what the situation might be, you know, that you want to under-promise and over-deliver, right. And I think in order to do that, you have to manage the buyer expectations of who you’re dealing with, regardless of whether we’re talking about the sales process or in your everyday life.
Right. So I think, generally speaking, it’s important to manage the buyer expectations because it’s the foundation of trust, right? The person coming in has certain expectations. And I think if you’re, if you’re actually able to address those and over-deliver on them, then it becomes the foundation for the relationship that ultimately you’ll build as time continues to go on.
Joseph Fung: So when I think about that, that idea of under-promising, over-delivering, I love that. A theme we hear from so many people that we interview is get, deliver a lot of value. As a sales rep, though, I’ve seen I’ve chatted with sales reps, who automatically assume that over delivering means the product does more than they promised, and sales reps don’t always have control of the product. So when you think about helping your team manage expectations other than product, what, what would they work with? What are the tools they’ve got it, they are exposed to?
Mike Mensink: Yeah, I mean, I think what is in their control is what they do on a day to day basis. Right? If I take sort of the example that we see, that I see probably most often is the concept of, you know, you start an initial dialogue with somebody, so somebody goes to your website, they say, you know, I’m interested in learning more.
And the expectation that they may have coming into a conversation is that, hey, all right, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to talk to somebody, I’m going to see what this product is all about. Right? So the idea that that first meeting, at least from a buyer standpoint, is I’m going to learn about the product, and I’m going to, you know, see a demo, or I’m gonna learn what this product is up too.
On a sales rep’s perspective, you know, their expectation going into that conversation is, hey, this is a discovery time for me to learn about that individual and that organization and what’s valuable to them. And then we’re going to go to a demo, right?
So I think like, that, to me is the most common one that we see so often and regular is somebody comes in, they have the expectation that they’re going to see the product and our expectations are different. So I think the way that you can do that right out of the gate is to make sure that, you know, you’re talking to that individual, you’re setting the expectations right up front to say, you know, this is what we’re going to do today, this is why we’re going to do it, is that okay with you, and get their buy in that — okay, that is in fact, okay.
And if it’s not okay, then obviously, you need to address that before you move forward.
Joseph Fung: I love that. So that’s a great, very concrete example. And, I mean, we’ve been in situations, we’ve all seen this, where we buy a product, and it doesn’t meet the expectations, and they look to the bad taste in your mouth, you could see how that translates well into the selling motion. But maybe you can help crystallize that, you know, what happens if a sales rep manages those buyer expectations badly?
Mike Mensink: So now, I mean, first off, nothing good. Right, if you manage buyer expectations poorly, I mean, again, if we use the example from before, and you ultimately say, from a discovery perspective, it is really somebody’s first impression of you and your organization, right?
And if they come in with expectations that are different from your own, and you don’t manage them correctly, you may not get a second conversation, right? I think, you know, that’s probably step number one is if you don’t manage them directly, and that person ends up coming to, you know, a phone call or a meeting or whatever, they may leave that meeting feeling as though they wasted their time, which is, you know, not what you want to have them leaving, right, you want to have them leaving.
Again, going back to that over-promising or sorry, under-promising and over-delivering, you ultimately want them leaving, saying, “Man, I got a lot of value out of having that conversation.” And if you don’t set the expectation that, the chances of that happening are probably slim.
Joseph Fung: So the example you shared it, I love that because you can see in that first interaction how it’s going to be so pivotal. How does that carry throughout a sales process?
Mike Mensink: Yeah, I mean, I think, if you think about how a sales process goes, typically speaking these days, you don’t, you’re not just dealing with one single individual. Right? So I think, you know, going back to, you know, the idea that, in order to manage somebody’s expectations, you can build trust based on that.
As you continue to go forward in the sales process, and you start to bring in other people within their organization, they have to have a level with trust with you that ultimately will allow them to say, Okay, this person is going to do the right thing, they’re going to manage my expectation, of my company’s expectations.
So that as I start to bring in more people into this conversation, and into this, you know, buying process, that they will do the right thing, they have our best interests at heart. And ultimately, in the end, you know, it’ll go a lot more smoothly as you kind of go through it, I think, if you think about, you know, deals that are complex.
So if you look at longer deal cycles and things that involve multiple stakeholders, it is hugely important to continue to move and to continue to progress that deal forward by managing expectations, not only of whoever your champion might be but of the teams as a whole. And that means, internally, as well as whoever your prospect might be, right?
If you’re looking at a complex deal, there’s a ton of moving parts that are part of that. And so, you know, from a simplistic perspective, you have to look at it and say, who’s responsible for what, what are the expectations that we as an organization have for our prospects or clients? And what can they expect of us, right, because there’s a bunch of things that are going to need to, you know, we’re going to need to collectively go off and do together to ultimately make this a successful process.
At the end of the day, we’re here to help support our prospects and clients into making a decision that ultimately will be the best value for their organization and good partnership going forward.
Joseph Fung: I love how you brought up the idea of those complex deals. It have done box out of it. So we carry our scenario forward, someone’s reached out to fill out the form on the website, they expect to learn more, they get a sales development rep on the call, that SDR might be thinking, it’s discovery.
But what happens when you get into those situations where the customer is expecting something like pricing that the SDR is not permitted or equipped to answer? I mean, that’s a pretty big chasm in expectations. So what’s the best process to manage that?
Mike Mensink: Well, I think, I mean, first and foremost, around pricing as a whole, I think if you help the individual understand the “why” behind you, maybe not being able to provide pricing, I think that’s probably the biggest thing, right?
If somebody comes in with an expectation that they’re going to get pricing, and you’re able to articulate why that may not be the case on that particular call, usually, that person will let their guard down, right? I think the secondary piece to that is, you know, again, managing expectations around when they might be able to get that.
So if you’re coming into a discovery call, and that person says, You know, I want a demonstration, and I want pricing to end, probably not going to be the case, right? But if you can actually have a conversation with them to say, listen, the reason why we can’t give you pricing is because I don’t quite know exactly what you guys are looking for, what would be important to you, or how I would actually create a pricing proposal for you, right?
Typically speaking, nowadays, you know, companies have more than one product. So they have more than one way to deliver that. So it’s difficult to just say, here’s flat out pricing. And I think the ones that do have that ability oftentimes put it on their website, right. So I think there’s, that ability as well.
But I think if you can spin it around to say, listen, can we spend the next half an hour, you know, talking together about, you know, what it was that made you interesting, or made you interested to have this conversation with me, to begin with? What I can do is take that information back, I’ll have a conversation with whoever I need to. And we can come back together in a day’s time or a week’s time, whatever that might be to actually talk about, you know, what a pricing structure, what pricing model would look like for you, would that be acceptable?
And I think as long as you’re sort of explaining why you’re not prepared to give that and you kind of give them a timeframe as to when they could expect it, then I think more times than not if you’re talking to reasonable people, they’ll be okay with that.
Joseph Fung: That’s great. And I think you said it right at the beginning those early conversations, the working SDR has to do, you know, is a really obvious and kind of easy to pinpoint opportunity. But I guess the question is, does that same challenge and the same imperative exist for account executives as well, those closers?
Mike Mensink: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don’t think the, you know, managing expectations as whole changes whether it’s the beginning of a relationship or whether it’s the end of a relationship. I should guess I shouldn’t say the end of a relationship, but at the, towards the end of a buying cycle, will say, right? Because at the end of the day, you know, what needs to get done maybe a little bit different.
And you may have a better understanding or a better relationship with that individual. But I still think that there’s, you know, very much a requirement to make sure that as you’re going into a close call, and as that person is bringing in their CEO, you know, what are the expectations that they have of you?
And what are the expectations that you have of them going into that, right, you start to talk about potential timeline, right, if they have specific dates that they need to hit, or there’s compelling events that they’re looking at delivering upon, you know, it’s important to make sure that, you know when you get to the stage when you start to talk about project plans, and how do you actually roll this out, and who might be involved on their side, from a resourcing standpoint, I mean, all of those things are hugely important that you know, oftentimes wouldn’t come up as part of the original conversation, but certainly do.
As you start to get to a point where, you know, that’s a viable solution, they see business value in it, and you start to talk about, okay, well, how do I make this a reality? And how do I roll this out?
Joseph Fung: So I love those answers. And I think it’s, it’s clear that as an SDR as an AE, we’ve got that imperative. You’ve had the fortunate perspective of seeing a variety of sales cycles and motions. So if you think about those complex sales, the other end of it is simpler sales, where you have one rep who controls the whole process. Would you say it’s easier or harder to manage those expectations? If you own the whole cycle?
Mike Mensink: I think, I don’t know if it’s easier or harder. It’s different.
Joseph Fung: Okay.
Mike Mensink: Right. So I mean, I would say it’s, it’s easier in the sense of, there’s no handoff, right? So if you look at, you know, more complex cycles, you have this handoff from SDRs, or BDRs, into sales. There’s enough technologies out there nowadays that balls don’t get dropped between that or shouldn’t get dropped between that.
But sometimes it can, right. And I think one of the things like if I just again, go back to examples for that, you have, you know, a prospective client who talks to an SDR, they give a whole bunch of data. And then the SDR says, can I set you up with an account executive; account executive comes in, the expectation that I would have as a client would be that I don’t have to repeat myself and that we’re into whatever the next stage is?
That doesn’t always happen. Right? So I’d say it’s more difficult in the sense that there are, there’s multiple places where you could sort of dropped the ball in the communication side. But I think there’s different expectations in a shorter sales cycle, you’re trying to get somebody to buy something very quickly. So you know, your expectation, and what you’re trying to set with them, is that at the end of this call, we’re essentially saying, Are you guys, you know, prepared to buy something.
So I think the, it’s not easier or harder, it’s different. And I think, you know, managing the expectations is a bit different when you’re talking about shorter sales cycles, one person versus many things like that.
Joseph Fung: I like, you really emphasized that idea of managing, and sometimes getting feedback, not always meeting. So I’ve got one last area I’d love to dig into.
We’ve had many people that we’ve interviewed that sometimes have different opinions. And on one end of the spectrum, we’ve had leaders who, who espouse the idea of always meet the buyer, or whether act they always comprise the pricing. We’ve had other people that we’ve interviewed who said no, you need to challenge the buyer to reframe what they’re thinking. And really, they push hard on that.
When you think about that idea of managing expectations. You know, how does that dichotomy play out? What are your thoughts on that debate?
Mike Mensink: Yeah, I mean, I think first and foremost, what we need to do as sellers, is reduce the friction to purchase, right? So there’s going to be, there’s going to be some organizations that are very complex in their buying process.
They know exactly what they go through. I mean, take government, for example, right? They have an RFP process. They have to get a certain number of bids, all of those things. So I think that you know, we need to be flexible in our approach. Does that mean that we need to go and chase tennis balls when people, you know, ask us to do certain things as part of a process? No, not at all.
I’m very much of the mindset that you do need to challenge as time goes on, right? At the end of the day. We, as sellers, are the ones that are experts in getting purchases done, and we need to act accordingly. So at the end of the day, if somebody is taking you through, you know, what they feel is their process, and we know that you know, success, at least for what our experience has been, is different.
I think it’s completely within our right to be able to say, from my experience, you know, it’s been successful if we’ve done it this way, right? And there’s a polite way to do that for sure. And to try and direct them towards, you know, what has made evaluation in your business successful in the past.
So I think you need to be flexible, but at the same time, you also need to act as though you’re an expert. Because at the end of the day, we are this is what we do day in, day out.
Joseph Fung: Fantastic. We’ve had such a great variety, and I don’t want to keep you too long. I’ve got one last question for you. You’ve worked with teams at all stages of their maturity if you’re talking to a new sales manager, and they’re trying to help their team manage buyer expectations better. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to that sales manager to do that better?
Mike Mensink: To the sales manager specifically, or to the sales manager to give his staff?
Joseph Fung: Well, either, or I’d love to hear where you go with that.
Mike Mensink: So I think I mean, it’s such a basic thing. But I think for me the idea of an upfront contract, so whenever you’re having a conversation, I mean, nowadays, we all send meeting invite.
So setting an agenda, and right out of the gate, sort of making that upfront contract within the actual meeting invite that gets sent. And then reiterating that at the beginning of your phone call, I think is such an important thing that I think we all look at and say, well, no kidding. But we don’t all do it all the time. It’s the easiest thing.
Joseph Fung: I am so glad that when we booked this interview, we included some speaking notes in the meeting invitation.
Mike Mensink: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: Mike, this has been incredible. You’ve got some fantastic insights. I love the comments and the specificity. I can’t wait to get this up and share it with our audience. Thank you so much.
Mike Mensink: Thank you, Joseph, for having me.
Joseph Fung: I’m very much looking forward to our next conversation. And I hope that you have a safe and healthy time, and I look forward to chatting again.
Mike Mensink: Me too, you as well.
Joseph Fung: Awesome. Take care.