There’s an old saying: “buyers are liars!” Good sales positioning and discovery techniques can help you understand true buyer motivations so you don’t end up in the Nobody Zone.

If you’ve been in sales more than a month you’ve experienced a situation where buyers contact you to gather some must-have information to make an informed buying decision. As highly motivated sales professionals, we drop everything and respond appropriately. Then something strange happens. We never hear from these gotta-have-it-now buyers again. No response to phone calls, texts or emails, and requests for meetings. It’s as if you never existed.

Welcome to the “Nobody Zone.” When you are in the Nobody Zone, you become a ghost – and ghosts don’t close deals, they haunt houses.

Three Tactics to Avoid the Nobody Zone

To steer clear of the Nobody Zone, sales people must first understand the buying process and the buying drivers for the prospective customer’s organization, i.e. “why are they interested in my products?”

  1. Distinguish Between Genuine & False Buying Signals
    Very early in the process all buyers conduct research to learn about potential solutions. In this stage buyers are eager and often send RFPs/RFIs to potential vendors. They scour the web, instantly return emails and phone calls, attend webinars and engage with sales people whose solutions are a possibility. Some sales people confuse this hunger for information as a buying signal. Take it at face value – it’s nothing more than information gathering. This stage is where your company messaging and solution positioning can fully engage buyers or push them away. If your sales people are requesting new product literature for each account, it may be an indication of messaging that’s too product focused versus buyer focused.
  2. Ask More, Learn More
    Telling isn’t selling. Asking questions is the only way to learn about business goals and priorities that are important to your buyers and why those goals have suddenly appeared on the organization’s A-list. A good product marketing team will educate sales people on macro level market trends of their target customers and the impact those trends typically have on an organization. Savvy sales people will use that information to jump-start a discovery conversation and determine the goals and obstacles and why they’re critical to the buyer’s business success. Once understood, sales people can begin to articulate your value story and ensure it speaks to the aspirations of the buyer in their own language. Get this step right and you will fully engage potential buyers. Miss the mark here and immediately feel the Nobody Zone pulling. Use the two-ears one-mouth rule and buyers will tell you exactly how to earn their business.
  3. Keep a Little to Yourself
    After the information gathering is complete, the comparison of potential solutions begins. Sellers beware! This is where the gravitational pull of the Nobody Zone begins to tug on you because buyers tune out sellers unless they need more information or seek clarification. Welcome to the black hole of unreturned emails, calls and meeting requests. You’ve given them everything and they no longer need you. To stay out of the Nobody Zone provide the buyer enough information to pique their interest and get into the game. This is where good positioning pays huge dividends because your sales and marketing materials speak the buyer’s language before the issues have been formally discussed. They communicate credibility which is the lynchpin to securing a meeting where the true scope of the opportunity can be uncovered.

If your sales and product marketing teams finds themselves in the Nobody Zone too often, sign them up for a Product Management University workshop where they’ll learn how to separate the contenders from the pretenders, ask the right questions and articulate differentiating value in the language of the buyer.