Do you have “Vendor Syndrome?”

Posted on May 10th, 2022 to Uncategorized

If you’re here reading this, chances are you’re a subject-matter expert. You rose through the ranks in your career, and at some point, you struck out on your own to support others with your deep knowledge and ability to get things done.

Can we just pause for a moment and take that in? Making the leap into business ownership is no small feat, and you did it. The day-to-day life of a corporate drone didn’t work for you, because you’re not an order taker — you’re a changemaker.

All of my clients are changemakers, and yet, I see the same stumbling block hobble them time and time again: During the sales process, they sometimes act like order takers, not changemakers.

Rather than showing up as an expert (inquisitive, consultative), they show up as a vendor (polite, compliant). I call this “Vendor Syndrome,” and you might be suffering from it if you’re experiencing the following:

  • You’re submitting proposals after just one brief meeting with a potential client (and then wondering how often to follow up)
  • You regularly agree to provide one-off trainings or ad hoc consulting when you know a deeper engagement is required to reach their goals
  • You find yourself wondering, “Why did I agree to this?!

If you’re experiencing these issues, it all boils down to two things:

  1. You’re not listening to your gut when you know something is off in the proposal process
  2. You don’t have the sales tools or experience to do it differently

If this is you, you’re not alone — plenty of your smart, successful peers also get jammed up by acting like an order taker. Remember, you’re a subject matter expert, not a salesperson, so you can’t be expected to have all the skills — you need to build them over time.

Recovering from Vendor Syndrome requires three major shifts:

  1. Treat proposals like confirmations. Only submit a proposal when it’s a confirmation of all the details you’ve discussed with the potential client. Any sooner, and you’re sending “thought starters” — and that can derail, or severely lengthen, your sales process.
  1. Lead more consultative sales conversations. Go beyond show and tell on your sales calls and get into the nitty-gritty. Question their thinking and “peel the onion” until you’ve helped them uncover their real  pain points and urgency — which is going to take longer than a 30-minute call. (Psst… this is where you find larger scopes and deal sizes)!
  1. Host a Fingerprints Meeting. Ahead of sending a proposal, meet with the client one last time to walk them through it and get their “fingerprints” on it. I guarantee you’ll uncover more juicy information that will either increase your scope or help you close the sale.

You might be thinking, “Sounds good, Allison – but how do I do these things?!” Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Join the next Sales Roundtable, and we’ll talk about it — you, me and a group of your brave, business-owning peers. Get the details and register here!

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