Customer Experience News & Trends

Change the sales conversation and watch sales soar

There is a new order to selling. 

Sales has become more of a conversation between business equals, not a seller pitching to a buyer. Prospects have fingertip access to massive amounts of knowledge, which means they come to a meeting prepared.

A Forrester Insight Survey reports that only 38% of executives felt that salespeople understood the issues they faced, and only 34% felt that salespeople related to their needs. To anticipate prospect needs and solve their business challenges, salespeople must go beyond what they learn online.

Adding value

Prospects expect salespeople to add value to what they already know. Your knowledge of your products has meaning to prospects only when it relates to helping them drive results. Prospects want to be educated, but not about products. They want new perspectives and ideas that produce outcomes.

Tell stories

While salespeople love to tell stories, too often they shoot themselves in the foot with stories about themselves or whatever comes to mind at the moment, failing to sense the effect on the prospect or customer. The best stories are strategic, informing, educating and motivate prospects or customers to act.

Tell stories that make a difference to prospects and customers. While facts help support a sales presentation, they can also be confusing, create doubt and turn people off. Some salespeople fill their presentations with facts and figures: and so-called hard information to build a solid, compelling case with customers. A simple, quick story that grabs interest may be far more effective in moving a prospect or customer to action.

Be performance ready

The two critical areas of knowledge for you to focus on are:

  1. Industry knowledge that gives you a running start in understanding your markets and businesses and makes conversations with prospects feel like familiar territory.
  2. Company knowledge that allows you to anticipate and meet your prospects’ current and emerging needs.

Be industry ready

When you’re industry ready, you understand your prospects’ world. Many problem points are common across companies in a given industry, and you can leverage these points. With an understanding of your industry, you can anticipate needs, develop insights and create value.

Competitive analysis

You are probably already analyzing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and making comparisons to your products or services. You can gain more leverage by understanding your customers’ competitors and what they’re doing to stay ahead. Bringing that kind of insight to your customers is invaluable to them and allows you to create awareness of the issues they should focus on and how you can help them excel.

Explore vulnerabilities

Salespeople can perform a significant service to customers by showing them where they may be losing business, how they might improve a procedure or pinpoint a product or service weakness. Because customers can be so caught up in daily operation, they may fail to see potential threats. Salespeople can be the extra set of eyes to provide valuable feedback.

Reinforce the buying decision

It’s immediately after the sale when the customer relationship is most vulnerable. This may be when post-sale doubts set in and questions arise. It’s a good idea for salespeople to take the initiative and let customers know why their buying decisions were the right ones.

Working harder

Thanks to technology, the new sales environment demands working harder. You’re probably using search engines to visit industry sites and have already joined industry groups on LinkedIn.

Here are other resources available to you:

  • Industry white papers issued by firms
  • Social media groups
  • Industry association websites, mailings and blogs
  • Alerts offered by industry publications
  • Industry forums, and
  • Industry trade shows and conferences.

Adapted from: “Changing the Sales Conversation,” by Linda Richardson, founder of Richardson, a global sales performance company. 

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