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Gap Selling in Practice: Aligning Decision Criteria During Discovery

Christion Embury
May 25, 2022

decision criteria

Gap Selling Tip #3: 


Concept: Ensuring decision criteria aligns with solving the problem you discover




“The point of (aligning decision criteria & what you learn in discovery) is not to confirm that your product/service can do the things your client wants it to.


Rather, it’s to confirm that the criteria they value the most (and are using to make their decision) will actually get them the desired outcome they say they want.” – Ch. 12 of Gap Selling


Frequently, the decision criteria your client has in their head does not align with solving the actual business problems.


9/10 times when you ask about decision criteria, you’ll hear something along the lines of price, ease of use, timing, etc… 


This opens the door for you to respectfully offer a new approach to making the decision.


[Just a reminder… what you suggest should have NOTHING to do with your product/service. It should be focused on the business problems and root causes you’ve found.]


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This can be extremely powerful, but you can ONLY put this into practice if you’ve done a proper discovery.


Typically, I ask this at the end of the first call, and it sounds a little like this: 


C: “You mentioned you’re also speaking with X and Y for this. What’s your decision criteria?”


P: “Price will be a big one. Overall alignment with our current processes and post-training support will be huge too.”


C: “Those are all valid criteria, but can I suggest a few things?


You said you were currently struggling with low win rates, a high discount rate, and long sales cycles.


We agreed that it’s likely occurring because your reps are struggling to define the business problems in discovery, failing to help the prospect understand the cost of inaction, and building weak ROI calculators instead of strong business cases.


I highly recommend that you add to your criteria, an assessment of the capabilities of each vendor to address these root causes. Add those because I’m not sure that you’ll be able to improve your win rates, discount rates, and sales cycle lengths as much as possible if you don’t properly address them.”


When you do this, you’re not pushing back, or telling them they’re wrong. You’re protecting them from making a decision without consideration of the problems they’re trying to solve.


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