Sales — Do you know what stage you’re in?

My office shed is getting quite old now. Every year my wife and I are discussing how to rebuild it, “for sure this year!”  But for now, I needed a dehumidifier. It’s a good reminder that every sale has three stages — and that’s true for up-selling as well.

Stage 1: Do I really need it?

It always was slightly damp, but do I really *need* a dehumidifier? Couldn’t I just air out the office? is this just another toys-for-boys — another itch to buy yet another gadget? But I am getting worried about mold. And about rust on my tools. And warping of the sub-roadbed of my small n-scale model train layout. We also have a few other projects around the house — there are always several things competing for resources.

Stage 2: What are the options?

Should I buy one of these buckets with granulate that catch the humidity out of the air? What are the options in the market? Where should I buy from?

Some de-humidifiers were touting all sorts of functions and features. But with all the information overload I wasn’t sure if these were actually important, or valuable: I needed a de-humidifier, not something that needs another management console to manage the management of my home devices. And I’ll probably pay for all these features and functions, it’ll be expensive.

Other companies explained how easy they work. How fast they are, how hands-off. There was a clear understanding of the value to me: Not tons of functions, but doing what I need, and faster and better and easier than others. A no-brainer.

And what if I don’t do anything — what are the costs of doing nothing?

Stage 3: What are the risks of my decision, and can I mitigate them?

Any price for anything is always “too high”, or “too much”, or “maybe cheaper elsewhere” — who wouldn’t want to pay less, generally speaking?! So what other aspects — other than price — are important to me? If I buy from an online retailer, how easy would it be to return the item? If I buy from a non-name startup brand, how good is the customer service and how reliable is the product? Will the new appliance draw to much power — can I operate it while running the router and the shop vac and the heater?

Thorsten, are you investing in de-humidifier startups?

No. But I am stumped how often startups don’t understand the three stages of a sale, and in which stage any of their customers are in.  I see weighted pipelines, progression by the number of meetings, by the number of people met, if the sales person has identified that there’s budget, if the prospect is using a certain other technology that usually is an indicator they would need the startup’s platform — a certain database, or a certain enterprise software, etc.

Take any of your own recent buying decisions: Deals get stuck when you’re jumping ahead to quickly: You’re discussing options but don’t know what you need. You’re thinking about “where” before “what”.  You’re worrying about wattage before knowing the facts. Our you’re actually buying something because it was easy/convenient/tempting/recommended, just to realize that you really didn’t need that Nippon Knife set. And now you’re in trouble with your CEO wife.  While you might get away with personal purchases that give you pleasure to use, that KPI is not always top-of-mind for the CEO.

Thoughts? Opinions? Comments? Corrections?