Six Tips for Selling More to MBAs Who Are Learning Your Business

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

There is an old saying; "The only thing better than having an MBA is to hire one!" Whether or not you are an MBA, we have all seen many such stars rise and fall throughout a companys ranks.

If there is one common criticism of MBAs it is that they can over-rely on their analytical strengths to compensate for the intuition that comes from many years "of on the job training."

The reasons why MBAs often have fewer years in a given job are well known. These include the churning corporate ranks of the 90’s, upward mobility and substantial downsizing. A less well known consequence of the MBA’s career movement can felt by those who have to sell to a MBA newly vested with purchasing authority.

Are your sales reps calling on MBAs who have little personal experience in buying or using what you sell? Without the benefit of a long-term relationship and the trust that is built over time, the resulting sales process can be difficult for both parties.

Faced with uncertainty when making a decision, MBAs are likely to revert to their training and focus on reducing risk. Many of the psychological models define this type of buyer as the "analytical-thinker." Whatever the definition, the buyer is likely to focus on lowering short-term costs un demanding quicker paybacks on an investment.

Do one or more of your sales professionals call on this anyone like this? Regardless of how well your reps are trained in consultative selling, any how well you are motivating them to add value and grow your business; this has got to be hard. If a sales rep is even somewhat uneasy with the analytical approach of their customer, it can be formidable.

How can your sales team sell more to MBAs? Here are a few tips. Teach them the business and create dependence. MBAs are trained to know what they dont know and find someone who does. Fill that void for them.

Ensure that your reps are really selling what prospects want to buy. As trite as it sounds, many buyers continue to make purchasing decisions based on different criteria than on how they were sold. Ensure your reps are selling advice, not just the product or service.

Sell with integrity. Prove to the buyer that he or she doesnt have to "outsmart" you.

Create FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) where appropriate. Using examples that show the "downside" of buying on price or for immediate payback can be invaluable.

Define the total and strategic impact of making a purchase. Most buying decisions do not fully reflect the value and cost of delivering products and services at the right time and place. Focus on maximizing potential rather than saving cost.

Find common ground. Like all employees reporting to the leader, buyers and sellers share the same personal agendas of reducing risk, hitting objectives and getting promoted. Regardless of levels of education or experience, your sales force already has this in common with their prospect and can certainly find common ground here.

If these tips prove helpful, maybe the old saying can change to" The only thing better than having an MBA is having one for a customer!"

Andy Birol (MBA 1985)

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.


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