Want to be more productive in Sales? Then stop selling.
Why because it does not work – no one whether in B2C or B2B, no buyer wants to be sold. It is like being conned into something you do not want. I am not saying the sales process is irrelevant, it’s has a new place in the buying process and that is one of reassurance.
The difference today is that buyers buy. Buyers have the balance of power to select who they choose to buyer from, no longer can they be sold to. So, the sales person or rep must re-think the buying process if they want to continue to hit quota and succeed in their ambitions to serve.
The buying process is now of engagement, education and elevation. To get the opportunity to engage in the buying process with the buyers, the sales person must get on the radar of the buyer. The job of the sales person is to help buyers navigate the options and to feel them comfortable with their decision. To reduce their risk and to solve their specific problem while taking them through the buyer process.
The B2B buying process is complex and this takes time to nurture all the stakeholders in the decision to buy. To be sales productive, it is critical to intelligently select for the best fit customers. Focus to engage with the buyers where there is the greatest opportunity to develop the relationship into a partnership.
Sales productivity is about leveraging the internet and technology to
- Find the best fit.
- Nurture trusted relationships.
- Create mutual competitive advantage.
Do not let Inbound marketing languish in content creation with no aim or purpose. Unqualified lead generation is a waste of sales resource and shows the supplier as unprofessional. Account-based marketing has helped to deliver intelligent marketing into the buying process. With personalised multi-contact campaign, sales and Marketing must work toward the same goal. To nurture and qualify potential customers that meet the supplier best fit criteria. Work together, sales and marketing can create value at every stage of the buying process. Technology has enabled data collection and analysis and the presentation of relevant and timely content. Marketing must now present content to ensure the interested and engaged is also qualified.
Why is Fit Critical?
If you know that your offer is the right fit for your customer you will confidently approach the buyer with this evidence. You would look foolish and do more damage to the potential relationship if your sell without evidence of best fit. Knowing your customer macro and micro challenges and culture is essential in establishing a mutual fit. The criteria for best fit may be by volume or value, product range, location, technology, financial, structure and leadership. Having identified the need, uncovered areas of value added and established fit. You can confidently offer helpful advice and guidance through the buying process to the ultimate goal of partnership. Solving the specific problem is selling solutions based on your internal strength. This is one of many steps in the establishing business alignment and supplier partnership.
Technology alignment is more important today. The sales person uses technology to increase productivity of repeatable processes. You must also align and customise your communication to the buyer’s preferences.
Why trusted relationships?
Today, sales people not just the sales company, must be found by the buyer. Buyers are searching for insight and the sales person must first have a visible profile and then have an authoritative opinion. Buyers will look at your LinkedIn profile and your online reputation must reflect your expertise and experience. Your personal experience and customer stories are more credible than the corporate story.
Because the role of the sales person has changed, the internal incentive programme must reflect the new focus. A sales person must build account-based relationships. They must create customer advocates with each customer organisation. Sales people must become trusted advisors. Customers must become advocates of the sales person to recommend them to their colleagues. Recommendations shorted the relationship building process. The reduced sales cycle and will also ensure you do not miss-out on new opportunities.
Trusted advisors must do the right thing for their customers. If this means passing the connection to another competing company because it is the best fit, then so-be-it. The is no benefit to anyone to shoe-horn a square peg into a round hole. This will be avoided if you have done your thorough research and establish best fit before moving into the buying process.
Great sales people are trusted because they do what is right for the customer first and for their company second. If you see your role as serving rather than selling, then you become the trusted go-to person. The skill of selling is no less important as part of the buying process. The sales skill reassures the buyer of the value, the risk and the benefits and in painting a picture of the solution and resolution.
Technology allows you to efficiently reach the right prospective customers at the right time. It allows you to have the trusted conversations that are most relevant and valued to that specific buyer.
Why mutual competitive advantage?
What is right for the customer is right for the sales person’s company and not the other way around. The customer comes first always. The sales person humbles to serve their customer and fulfil their specific needs. This relationship is mutually beneficial to both the supplier and the customer. There is no barrier to developing trusted relationships and creating beneficial competitive partnership. If you can establish and agree what is good for your customer and the buyer takes the risk, then this is good for the supplier. Best fit always creates competitive advantage if the supplier continues to evidence what is best for their customer. Both parties have an invested interest in the relationship. Competitor will find it difficult to break a trusted relationship apart.
Knowing their customer so well, the sales person delivers the right visual and verbal stories at the right time in the right language. To maintain competitive advantage sales must ask the right questions to the relevant people.
To stimulate debate and thoughtful innovation, sales must continue to ask insightful questions. They must lead the challenge to disrupt the status quo and bring new insight to their valued customer. Suppliers have an invested interest in their customer growth and remaining competitive.
Transparency and trust need active listen and searching questions, so you can speak to your customer specific need. You must be able to differentiate the options, explain the risk, sell the value and consult on the negotiables. This will differentiate you from your competitors. After each conversation, if you cannot leave your buyer with added value, then question why a buyer would continue in conversation.
How you sell or serve is now the true competitive differentiator. Offering value rather than products. Asking challenging questions and helping the customer to discover new opportunities. Sales people must develop trusting advocates and partnership relationships. If you want to be sales productive then play the long-range win-win game and Scale Your Sales.