Think of a sale you’re working on now and ask yourself: ‘Am I attempting to sell my products or services or am I trying to solve the customer’s problems?’
If you want to improve your sales approach, get into a ‘What will it solve?’ mindset. Before a sale, make a list of all the problems or potential problems you believe you can solve for your customer. Keep this list at the forefront of your mind as the sale begins and you will automatically ask better questions.
If you’re a sales manager, whether your sales are booming or your team is having difficulty meeting its targets, keep saying over and over: ‘Help our customers to solve their problems.’ Be like a record stuck in a groove and you’ll be rewarded with better sales.
In addition, get your team to introduce the customer to NEW ideas, new approaches they may not have previously thought about. That together with a COLLABORATIVE approach and the ability to persuade the customer they will get RESULTS, is how the modern day salesperson brings value to the sales process.
There are four keys essential to selling solutions in today’s market that will strengthen your approach to every sales opportunity.
How would you react to being referred to a doctor who claimed to be a leading authority on orthopaedics, gynaecology and ophthalmology? You’d run a mile from such obvious quackery. It’s just not possible to be a master of all these disciplines.
If you try to be all things to all people, you will be nothing to no one. Instead, be brilliant at the one subject closest to the customer’s heart – their business.
Frequently a potential customer will test your knowledge early in a meeting. He will ask you what you know about his industry or your opinion on some aspect that is currently concerning him. He wants to be reassured that you know what you are talking about and that you are the sort of person he wants to do business with.
Don’t disappoint him! This is your opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. Whenever you are tested, rise to the challenge and establish your credibility and knowledge. It’s your entry to the sale.
When you stand in front of an important customer, you must present new knowledge about improving their business. This leads us to a question that provides real insight into what’s required to outsell your competition, both now and in the future: Would your customer still hire you as a consultant if you no longer had your product or service to sell? The answer clearly reveals whether you are a resource to the customer or merely a person who sells. It may seem hard to live up to, but the more you move in that direction the better your sales will be.
Buying in today’s market is a risky business. If you want to persuade customers to buy your solution, you must first convince them that the risk of doing so is low.
Salespeople often fear rejection, but the customer also has fears – the fear of making a mistake, of paying too much, of being criticised for making the wrong choice, of being left stranded by your company because the support is inadequate.
Reducing the perception of risk is a concept that should permeate your selling. Position your company as the low-risk provider of the required solution. Demonstrate that doing business with you is the safe option.
What do you think lowers risk in the customer’s mind? It could be your company’s reputation, your collaborative approach, stability, client base, quality awards, or having lots of satisfied customers. And if you have high repeat business, then be sure to talk about it. For the customer to trust you, you must provide evidence – the harder the better – that confirms the quality of your product or service and the results you achieve.
Belief is a spectacularly important differentiator and value builder. When we believe in what we’re offering and why it’s the best, this belief comes across in our presentation and is very persuasive. If we are convinced then we’ll be able to convince others. Never forget that people are more persuaded by your convictions than by your arguments.
The trouble is, when we’re involved with the same product or service week after week, month after month, year after year, our belief tends to become sterile, especially after a recession. The fire and passion we once had are replaced by a merely intellectual belief.
The cure is simple: take time out to rebuild your belief. While this may sound like an opportunity to step back, it’s not an excuse to take the morning off – just spend a few minutes each day reselling yourself on the value of the solutions you offer. The best way to achieve this is to remind yourself of your satisfied customers. Remember the value they received and the problems you helped solve. It will make your selling easier and more natural.
Everyone now recognises that the old spray and pray, ‘gift of the gab’ approach has no place in modern selling. In fact, if you are a great talker and can’t learn to bite your tongue, then maybe selling is not for you.
If we tell people why they should buy, if we give them all the logic, all the reasons why they should go ahead, and we do it with enthusiasm, we will make some sales, but those people would probably buy anyway. Whether we like the description or not, we are in the role of order taker.
The most persuasive way of transferring your ideas is through questions. Resist the temptation to tell people what you can do for them. Instead, ask them what difference it would make. This makes both F2F and virtual selling much more engaging. The best way to persuade is with your ears.
This is especially important in relation to selling insights – new approaches to selling highlight the importance of teaching the customer something new about how to run their business. That’s the right approach but be careful, sellers should resist the temptation to ‘tell’ and instead ask questions which get the prospect thinking in new ways.
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Read more about virtual selling.