Buyers are getting more knowledgeable and are hence changing their buying behavior… So, salespeople have to change.
Thanks to the Internet and VOIP, any salesperson can reach anyone across the globe and can sell. This means that more competitors now have access to your customers that was once upon a time, available only to you and to a handful of competitors of yours. All websites look similar flaunting all functionalities in the product or capabilities in services. All salespeople say that their companies will do everything. Buyers are hence suspicious with salespeople and are also tired of the noise and the volume of the marketing and the sales campaigns aimed at them.
What skills should the salespeople have?
A good % of the month should be spent on acquiring skills they have not learned before.
Learn about their products/ capabilities fitment to an Industry or a Buyer, learn about the latest selling skills.
The buyers are learning fast. Now the buying teams have begun aligning with multiple business units and making the purchases a strategic one. There are strategic business goals aligned with the purchases. So, the buyers expect to have meaningful conversations with salespeople who get in touch with them. Since the buyers learn a lot about the solutions based on the problems they have, it is important for the salesperson to match up to the knowledge.
The buyers also lose fuse faster if the conversation is at a basic level. It is important that the salesperson should know to have a good level of understanding of how their solutions can help a buyer. The buyer will lose interest if the initial conversation does not lead to anything meaningful and the end of this conversation ends up with the salesperson asking for a scheduled meeting with their seniors to discuss further.
Buyers want to talk and to engage with Salespeople who understand what they want and who have the skills and knowledge to ideate with them. That is when the buyer begins building a relationship with the salesperson. The salespeople, should not think that they can build a relationship by being just being over-enthusiastic and by being persistent.
When I think back of the days in the early ’90s when I started selling, buyers had access to a few sellers only, the only gateway of knowledge for the buyer was the salesperson, it was imperative that the salesperson had to be aggressive and be persuasive to close.
Today, with the buyers having a good knowledge of the products and services available in the market,
Move into a method of understanding the buyer’s problems, help them in solving those by providing them options and make them get confident about you. Once you do that, the buyers will be happy to give you the business or at least give you the first choice of rejection and would be after you.
Focus on the right sets of buyers.
You cant be a one-stop-shop for all the customers in the world. Your capabilities and your products will suit a set of buyers the best and will not suit many customers. Sometimes, it is tempting to choose a set of big logos and go after them because they sound good to be our customers. However, there is a lot of time that is wasted because of the size, the high impact of business problems, complex hierarchy, multiple decision-makers in those large organizations, the kind of competition.
It is good to go after them if we firmly believe that we have a chance. However, we should also look at the chance of those types of organizations evaluating and choosing us. This could be based on the past problems we have solved at scale and the types of people or similar industry customers who can inspire those large firms to look at us positively.
Spend time with those chosen audiences, and qualify them as early as possible. Identify their business pain points and understand the types of solution they will be happy with. Find out their evaluation parameters and try to match up to those expectations to win the deal.
Articulate the Value Proposition.
No one has the time and the interest to listen to your pitch on how great you are, your company is, and your processes are. There will be a time when you can flaunt all of those.
It is important that you keep articulating the value proposition ) as that will help the buyer decide to continue engaging with you.
No great pitch with an excellent value proposition gets into the mind of the buyer if you are unable to make the buyer visualize how this will help them in solving their business pain points and what sort of benefits they will get. The skill that you would need to acquire is to storify your entire script. You will have to understand the entire script from a buyers perspective and modify the storyline to suit your personality.
What could be the theme in the story??
Every buyer wants to look good in front of their peers for having made the decision. They would like to take pride in having solved the business pain point at scale. So, your intent should be to make the buyer a hero within the organization. Hence, your story can be something like this.A salesperson should ensure that the story of the pitch they give to the prospects should be based on Issues, Solutions, and Benefits.
Buyer situation / Issues
You should focus on talking about what situation the buyer was in when they had the issue. This will help your buyer to visualize the same pain point or something similar. The buyers will be able to feel the pain point as they will connect themselves with someone else in the industry or some other organization they know.
You can begin talking about the multiple options available to solve these pain points. You can also talk about dependencies while implementing those solutions. The buyer can visualize the dependencies and the change management issues at their end. This will help them get a clear picture of which path they should adopt.
Challenges faced while implementing the solution
You should now get into implementation challenges you faced. You can talk about how you solved these issues with multiple customers. This will give confidence to your buyer that you can handle multiple business situations and environments.
Finally, after all the struggle, the investment and the efforts, the business benefits will give them the big picture. So, talking about what others have gained after the implementation and how this buyer can get similar business benefits will give a good indication of moving the cards inside with other decision-makers to make the purchase.
Positioning yourself and your company as a Thought Leader
Your buyers are making a purchase decision with you to solve their business problems.
They will buy from you if they would like you and if they would trust you. What do I mean by that? The buyers should be confident that your company will be able to solve their problems and can make them look good in front of their colleagues and their management. The confidence will come if you would be able to establish a thought leadership position for your organization.
This goes with the earlier points of having a great perspective of the buyer’s problems, your solutions potential fitment to those, the business benefits that your buyer will get and providing lots of knowledge. The buyers will also look at your organization website, social media pages and of course – your social media profiles. How do you get a Thought Leadership position for you?
This can be done when you can work with your Marketing team. You can take a lot of the content they have produced or can produce new content to populate on your website and the organization social media pages. In addition to that, you can also begin posting a lot of that content in your own social media profiles. When the buyer sees your profile, they see you as an expert because your profiles will have only the content that is contextual. This will give confidence to the buyers that they are dealing with the right person.
Negotiation & Objection Handling skills
Your buyer is going to object and negotiate with you at multiple stages of the sales cycle. This may be an objection in meeting with you, continuing the conversation with you, on your suggestions on the pain points, on the solutions you give and finally on the terms in the proposal. You will need to be knowledgeable about your solutions fitment to multiple industries and the possible solutions.
This will help you navigate and influence the thought of the buyer from I don’t need anything at this point in time to I would like to buy the solution from you right now.
The end goal in mind
You should have your end goal in mind. You should break down the entire goals into activities and efforts. You must be creative across the multiple stages of the sales cycle and make sure that you achieve your goals across all stages of the sales cycle on a weekly or a monthly basis.
You would need to work consistently towards all the activities in your sales process. This begins with an adequate number of prospects at all stages. The indicative stages can be Interested prospects, Questioning and Qualifying the prospects, Identifying needs, Submitting a proposal, Negotiation, and Closing deals.
Efforts on a given day need to be split meaningfully between Selling and Non-Selling activities to ensure that the pipe is filled with the right number of prospects. Once this is accomplished and the right methodology is adopted, the chances of achieving the end goal are very good.
Learning constantly on the fitment of your solutions to the buyer personas business pain point. Educating your buyers in a consultative way but also qualifying them and moving them towards the buy button will be the skills that are required for the salesperson in these days.
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