And so we come, dear reader, to the fourth stage in the B2B buying process. Our first three stages are typically defining and amassing our addressable marketdefining the sales opportunity and delving into the customer’s objectives, in that order. Sales process is something you should do in the right order. It’s a linear series of stages to get you to the finishing line in the most effective way possible.

In many ways successful selling is about guiding your customers through their buying process, the destination of which is a realisation that you can uniquely address their specific objectives and a purchase. The fourth stage is demonstration, and this is where you start to demonstrate how you can uniquely address their challenges, remove their barriers and get them to where they need to be. Unsurprisingly, it matches the fourth buying stage where the buying company is evaluating their alternatives.

Just as your investment in time, and the cost of acquisition, start to accumulate at this point, so does the risk for the buyer as they are starting to reduce their choices and make the selection which will deny them other potential good courses of action. Your job is to make them feel good about choosing you, so that they can feel good about the recommendation to themselves and their colleagues. A cynic would argue that Man is motivated at the most basic level by fear and greed. This is true when you’re up against a very large or established player in your field, and can play out with the buyer thinking ‘well, I can’t be blamed now, I went with the biggest and best, so it’s not my fault.’ If you’re not the big guy, you need to work hard to make sure they don’t fall back on the safe option, when what they really need to do is select the best option.

Here are some things to ponder on during the demonstrate phase:

– who wants you to win inside the customer? How important are they? What are they doing for you? How do you know that?

– how are you leveraging your friends and handling your enemies inside your customer? If you don’t know who’s a friend and who’s a foe, this is a problem and you need to find out

– what do the buyers inside your customer think of the evidence or proof you’re demonstrating? Do they buy it? Remember that it’s only a differentiator if they acknowledge it as such

– what do they think of your solution? Do they really understand what makes you different?

– have you demonstrated specifically how you can address the problems they have? Can you point to other similar examples or projects where this has been borne out?

– have you shown the return they should expect from choosing your solution? Do they buy into the numbers? Do your return estimates approximate theirs?

– what indication have they given you that you are the leading contender for the business? Do you buy into this or are they telling you what they think you want to hear?

– if they’ve given you an indication that you’re not the front-runner, do you know what makes the leading bid the leading bid, and what’s your plan to address that?

Don’t forget that you should always be qualifying. Things happen quickly in business and circumstances change accordingly. You need to be sure that they still need to act, for the same reasons, and they still have budget earmarked to do so. After all, if you really are the front-runner, your competitors will be trying to change the objectives to suit them, or introduce enough confusion that the deal gets broken up into smaller pieces that they can snag.