Overcoming Sales Challenges: A Buyer Focus on Seller Deficit Disorder

Originally Posted on Aug 5, 2014 on the Force Management blog.


Occasionally salespeople will sign up for the challenge of trying to sell me something. This doesn’t always end well, but is usually entertaining.

I’ve had a few recent experiences with SaaS software providers trying to sell to me and I found myself thinking about John Kaplan and his comments around Seller Deficit Disorder. (My colleague Brian Walsh did a great job of breaking down the Sales Leader Deficit Disorder in this post.) This common “ailment” encompasses two of the biggest complaints buyers have about sellers:

  1. You don’t understand my business.
  2. You don’t listen.

My recent experiences were at different stages of the buying process, which led me to realize that Seller Deficit Disorder evolves during the sales process. As buyers make their decisions, their perspective on these two complaints actually changes, depending on where they are in the buying process.

The typical progression for a buyer in their buying process is relatively simple:

  1. What are my Needs?
  2. What are my Choices?
  3. How do I mitigate Risk before buying?
  4. How do I ensure Success after buying?

When you consider the buying process, Seller Deficit Disorder progresses. It’s no longer simply, you don’t understand my business and you don’t listen. See the graphic below:



What drove me to think about Seller Deficit Disorder when I was being sold to? I received the following email, after I downloaded a whitepaper that was “needs-focused”:

I noticed you were on our website. Is there something specific you were looking for? Perhaps we can chat tomorrow at _____ to discuss your interest in ______

The lack of any reference to what Force Management does makes me assume the seller didn’t review our website or my LinkedIn profile. The follow-up email also didn’t address the “need” that prompted me to download the white paper in the first place. By tailoring even just one sentence, I wouldn’t be saying to myself that ‘he doesn’t understand our challenges.’

A wise seller will keep Seller Deficit Disorder in mind when communicating with customers and prospects throughout the entire buying process. A value-based selling approach focused on effective discovery, required capabilities and positive business outcomes is the ideal remedy to address this disorder.

What actions have you taken in your sales efforts to overcome buyer preconceptions?

Worth the Read: Three Links to Improve Your Sales Organization

Originally Posted on June 4, 2013 on the Force Management blog.

economic growth newspaper

Today I’m sharing three posts that got my attention in the blogosphere. When it comes to improving your sales organization, who doesn’t love a good list to get you thinking? And, Oracle’s problem in sales execution (outlined below) is something I’ve seen with hundreds of clients. A sales execution problem centers on management’s operating rhythm.

I’ve added my own thoughts to these posts. Let me know yours in the comment section below.

9 Shortcuts to More Effective Sales and Marketing Collaboration

Business to Community blogger Matt Heinz has a great list here. I’d suggest a 10th shortcut (which is related to Matt’s 4 & 5). Have members of sales and marketing (and product marketing, engineering and channels) work together in a multi-day session to create the actual sales messages the sellers will be using. Force Management clients refer to this session as “white collar prison” when we do this in Command of the Message®, but they mean that in a good way. At least by the time they see the results!

Top 20 Reasons Why Sales Managers Suck at Coaching

Wow. Jonathan Farrington writes, “17% of all sales managers are effective at coaching.” I’ll say it again, Wow. Here are two I would add to his list:

1. Their company has not defined competencies for the different sales roles, so when themanagers coach they’re coaching to the wrong areas.

2. Sales Managers don’t have a list of defined competencies for being a sales manager. Oh, by the way, being an effective coach is one of them.

Oracle Blames Third-Quarter Miss on Sales Execution

After their missed earnings expectations Oracle’s CFO recently said, “the problem was largely sales execution, especially with the new reps.” With a name like Oracle isn’t that something they should have seen coming? If you’re having sales execution problems and your sellers aren’t ramping up quickly, you likely have an ineffective management operating rhythm, specifically around your sales planning and talent management responsibilities. Hopefully, Oracle will realize this. Time will tell.


Tom Martin, Executive Director of Operations

Tom Martin is a 20+ year veteran of the sales methodology and training industry. He has a diverse set of global experience with sales (direct, indirect and inside), channel management, marketing, SFA/CRM, consulting, finance, legal, training, systems and operations. He serves as Force Management’s Executive Director of Operations.