Customer Experience News & Trends

5 ways to revitalize the buyer/seller relationship

Salespeople face suspicion and rejection daily. Prospects often ask them to answer a ton of questions, reveal proprietary information, and spend hours on projects that may never occur or may be awarded to another supplier. 

Here is some information worth passing on to your sales team.

Changing the dynamic

The dynamic between sales and customers has to change. As a salesperson, you can start this change by thinking differently about your job. You don’t sell. You consult. Focus your efforts on your customers’ success.

Mutual self-interest

Change the sales/purchasing dynamic by seeking mutual self-interest. Try to avoid forcing a sale to meet quotas or numbers. Involve customers in evaluating whether your offering meets their precise needs.

Explore the opportunity

Explore the opportunity you offer with prospects. Don’t guess what they need. Listen to them and get all the issues on the table before you talk about solutions.

Read between the lines

Take care not to hear only what you want to hear. Read between the lines and when you hear anything that raises a concern, treat it the way you’d treat a “yellow light” in traffic. Address the issue, ask questions and make sure you’ve mutually resolved them before moving on.

Identify problems

Work with your prospects to rank their concerns in order of importance. If you identify 10 problems, about 80% of the value of your solution will come from resolving the first two. Qualify the value of your solution by asking five questions about each problem:

  1. Define the problem?
  2. How do you measure it?
  3. What would you see as an ideal solution??
  4. What is the value of the difference between what it is now and what it could become?
  5. How much value would you like to gain from this difference in two or three years?

Past history

Find out why the prospect hasn’t done anything about the problem in the past. How does your solution affect other parts of the business? What barriers and obstacles prevented its resolution in the past? Address past obstacles now or you may face them in the future.

Find the decision-maker

Even the best solutions fail because salespeople don’t find out early on who makes or influences decisions. Ask about the process. What steps need to take place for the customer to make a decision? Ask questions to learn the identity of the decision makers early in the process.

5 key beliefs

Here are 5 key beliefs to help you focus completely on customer needs:

  1. Salespeople and customers want the same thing. Customers want solutions that address their issues or needs. Problems emerge when salespeople think they know a customer’s problems or offer a ready solution. Customers don’t always know what they want and often can’t describe it. To win their trust and openness, focus on uncovering solutions that address their needs
  2. Intent counts more than technique. Your knowledge, expertise and technique won’t matter until you convince customers that you always keep their interests and needs foremost. Build rapport and trust by demonstrating your focus on your customers’ needs. Forget numbers. Take care of customer concerns and your needs will take care of themselves.
  3. Solutions have no inherent value. No one cares about your solution or listens to you unless it directly solves their problem. Try to learn about customer challenges before you say a word about your solution.
  4. Questions may enable you to uncover the prospect’s buying motives and objections. After you ask a question, try to be quiet and let customers get their entire point across before you say anything. Listen for clues to uncover hidden needs.
  5. Prospects will not buy unless they believe they will get what they want and avoid what they don’t want. Salespeople become indispensable to their customers when they demonstrate that they understand customers’ problems and goals and have the ability to solve those problems and fulfill those goals.

Make it easy

An unclear presentation makes the prospect work too hard to understand the solutions being offered. Make it easy for customers to grasp your ideas. This gives them an opportunity to focus on what’s in it for them.

Adapted from: “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play,” by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig. Franklin Covey sales trainers Khalsa and Illig teach and consult about sales performance for global Fortune 500 firms.

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