Icebergs are hulking, majestic, and if you’re unlucky they’ll sink your ship. The dangerous part of the iceberg is not the tip sticking out above the water that's obvious to everyone. It’s the 90% chunk of ice unseen below the water that will rip your hull open and send you to the bottom of the ocean.
Savvy captains either know or can pretty well estimate what’s going on with an iceberg under the water and know how to approach one effectively when needed or avoid them altogether.
Less experienced and less competent captains motor right up to the visible part sticking out of the water unaware of the risk to life and property lurking below until it's too late to do anything about the threat.
Sales is the same way. In sales, we typically sell what we see like price, features and benefits which are like the tip of the iceberg. Most companies, sales teams and salespeople sell to the obvious visible needs of their prospective customers. The most successful sales teams and salespeople know what’s under the surface and use what’s there to build traction and trust to advance the deal.
If the prospect and salesperson are only focused on the visible, more tangible aspects of a deal, sales and negotiations typically boil down to a negotiation about price and availability resulting in giving up revenue and commission to win the deal.
Underwater, however, are dynamics that the prospect may or may not know about. These underwater dynamics, invisible to the salesperson and maybe/maybe not understood by the prospect, include company politics, lack of a business case for the project, personal loyalties, personal and ego issues, and other dynamics that kill deals.
In the future we’ll dive (pardon the pun) into navigating these unseen dynamics and unpack how to turn them into leverage to win more deals.
Until then, in general, the key to successfully navigating around sales icebergs is to accept the fact that your prospects will make decisions based on dynamics that they may or may not be aware of, solve for the problems that you can see, probe for what may be under the water and plan your sales conversations and engagement with this in mind.
Do you have a specific issue or deal that’s in danger of sinking due to these dynamics that you’d like to workshop or unpack? If so, post in the comments below or send me a message!