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Whose Grandma Are You Selling To?
Blog / Prospecting / Apr 19, 2019 / Posted by Spencer Marona / 1084 

Whose Grandma Are You Selling To?

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Unless you have been living under a rock or on a deserted island for the past decade, we can agree that change is happening everywhere we look. There’s AI, driverless cars, phones that do everything and more.

Similar to products, industries are rapidly changing too. If you have been in sales for several years, you’ve experienced this first-hand. There are thousands of CRMs, social selling, longer buyer decision-making processes and more.

However, amidst the chaos, two things have not changed. They are grandmas and buyer/client personalities, and both are strangely similar.

Before judging the above statement, imagine if you approached every cold call or sales conversation with a buyer as if they were a grandma. Would you have more patience? Would you actively listen vs. waiting for your turn to talk? Would it be easier to be empathetic to their concerns? More importantly, would you see the buyer as a person and not a commission?

Even if we are speaking to an elderly woman who isn’t our grandma, we naturally slow down and become more genuine. Our subconscious tells us to relax and be trustworthy because all grandmas deserve that.

Guess what? Our buyers and clients deserve the same. Read below and see if you agree.

Grandma #1

Loving, has her wits about her and would do anything for you and your family. She is reliable, loyal and full of pleasant surprises. She spoils everyone and never wants to take credit.

Buyer/Client #1

This is your dream client. Do not become complacent nor ever take this client for granted. Most sales professionals go their entire career without having a dream client. Remember to continue to deliver value like you would with gratitude toward this grandma. (For me – this is Avenue5 Residential)

Grandma #2

Gracefully aged and moving slow… Still has her wits, is quiet and wiser than most. When she does speak, everyone listens. She has lived a long and productive life.

Buyer/Client #2

This buyer is near retirement and they were probably working before most of us were born. Get to the point, be direct and lose any sales tricks. They have dealt with all types of salespeople. If the transaction makes sense in their opinion they will move forward. Once their decision is made though, you will lose credibility if they say no and you continue to pursue that transaction. This buyer may be the head of a family business, so know that if you leave on good terms with or without a sale you will have a better chance of doing business with their next in line decision maker.

Grandma #3

Stuck in the past and always feels the need to remind everyone about “back in my day”. Grouchy at times and set in their ways more than other grandmas.

Buyer/Client #3

This is an uninformed buyer who has purchasing power. They are slow to adopt and adapt, and you will often hear “we’ve always done it this way.” This buyer is used to the status quo and the thought of change is terrifying even though they won’t admit it. The fear of uncertainty or “improving things” is too much work. Ultimately, they fear losing control of their comfort zone.

This buyer may be a bully at times, especially on their own turf. Get to know them personally and be genuine. Take time and make the investment to get them offsite and buy them lunch. Once they see you for more than just a salesperson, the timing could be right to recommend a smaller solution (assuming you have multiple products and services). It may not be your top product or service, and that’s okay.

Play the long game with this buyer. Once you’ve earned their trust and they’ve realized your solution wasn’t a painful change and they’re still their comfort zone, they will become a loyal client.

Grandma #4

Forgetful about everything. It doesn’t matter if you leave a note on the fridge, call the night before in addition to the morning to remind her, she will forget whatever it is.

Buyer/Client #4

This is a buyer that gets us really excited at first. The cold call went well, there was great rapport, and we learned a lot at our first meeting. They agree to move forward with a presentation time and date. Despite confirming the day prior to presenting they are not in their office upon our arrival.

These shenanigans continue over time. This buyer is always apologetic for needing to reschedule and/or shows up late to meetings. Overall, they are a nice person.

Eventually, we realize they are wearing too many hats, not organized or terrible with time management, and/or probably understaffed. Inevitably we spin our wheels trying to chase them down and lose out on other opportunities as a result.

The best way to handle a buyer like this is to sniff it out early and cut bait. You may fear that a competitor will win the business, but only for a few seconds if you have a robust sales pipeline.

Grandma #5

Active and always on the go. She loves to travel, play golf, and belongs to the wine, bocce ball and bridge clubs. This spark plug can rarely fit in time to see her grandchildren.

Buyer/Client #5

Unlike buyer #4, this one is organized and impossible to track down or schedule a meeting with. They are sharp and good at what they do. Take more time than normal to strategize on how to creatively get in front of this buyer. Learn everything you can about their personal interests. Then invest in something creative and unique to send them or drop off at their office. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but if it stands out, you will significantly increase the odds of scheduling a meeting with her directly or her assistant. This may be your only shot, so be on your A game.

Grandma #6

Bat s#!t crazy. Says amazing and inappropriate things. You continue to visit, and it’s always an adventure.

Buyer/Client #6

This buyer is a piece of work. You wonder how they are still employed or haven’t been sued with some of the things they say. They make irrational decisions and are not open to advice and opinions unless it’s their own.

Weigh the sales opportunity with your tolerance for having to deal with this client and decide if it’s worth pursuing. Or, become a master at making your idea their idea, which will not work with most clients, but it may with a crazy one.

Again, a healthy sales pipeline can make that decision easier for you.

Grandma #8

Mean and vicious. Always has been, but she’s family and getting up there in age, so it’s tolerated.

Buyer/Client #8

This is an a-hole client. You dread picking up the phone to speak to them or meet with in person. The only reason you continue is because it’s a large account and/or a big sale opportunity. Some will say life is too short to deal with buyers like this and that there are other ones out there. Both are true, but sometimes in sales we have to deal with jerks to get what we want. You make the call.

Grandma #9

Will complain about anything and everything. Complaining isn’t uncommon with elderly, but she takes it to another level. Complains about her health, the economy, “kids today”, whoever she spoke to during earlier on the phone, the meal you made, etc.

Buyer/Client #9

It doesn’t matter what time of day or year you speak with this buyer because you know you’re about to get an earful of negativity. They are constantly complaining about your pricing, the service, their employees, the weather, local sports teams, anything. Regardless, they continue to do business with you. That’s because they actually do not have any issues with what you’re selling, it’s just who they are.

Plan for more time in your day when dealing with this buyer. Suck it up and be a sounding board. Do this and they will remain loyal.

Grandma #10

Grandma that is no longer with us.

Buyer/Client #10

This is the buyer/client that no longer exists. A competitor may have won the business or taken it from you, it’s somehow “no longer in their budget”, new management may have come in and decided to cut costs, etc. There are many examples of a deceased buyer. A common one is that they “went dark” or “ghosted” you and how dare they do that after all the work you put in. That’s the game we’re in.

Know that most people are conflict-averse and similar to when you began cold calling, that’s the feeling they get when thinking about having to tell you they are going with another provider or decided to not to move forward. Their natural reaction is to hope you go away on your own.

There are three takeaways with deceased buyers.

  1. Learn from what went wrong. Where did you fall short? What made them go in a different direction? Ethical and experienced buyers will give you feedback if you ask, so make that call and never burn a bridge.
  2. Recap and discuss what did go well.
  3. In sales, buyers rise from the dead, so always keep in contact!

Ironically, it appears Grandma #10 and Buyer/Client #10 are not similar because as stated at earlier, change is inevitable. Happy hunting and go call your grandma.

    About Author

    Spencer Marona, CSC is the founder and owner of PERFORMANCE NORTH, a sales performance, and leadership development consulting firm. Spencer helps his client's rapidly elevate their revenue via a hybrid of solutions including using an objective, scientific, and measurable tool that measures how the thinking of an individual, team and/or organization impacts performance.

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