It takes smart, highly competent salespeople to meet the challenges presented by today’s informed and savvy customers.
Even so, there are many in sales who believe that success depends on a friendly smile, a gift for small talk, and a large dose of enthusiasm and optimism. Others might toss in a passion for selling, listening, the ability to close, and coming across as sincere.
Yet, possessing a great attitude and excellent sales skills doesn’t guarantee success. Many salespeople who “do everything right” underperform. With so much focus on personal qualities and skills, the sales process doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
However, it’s the process — the “sales experience” — that makes a huge difference to customers. More and more, it’s the process that engages them in ways that lead to closing sales. Here are five elements of a client-oriented sales process:
1. Play detective. Too many salespeople set themselves up for failure from the start. They try to go from “Good to see you” to “Thanks for the order” with as little interference or distractions as possible. “Keep it simple” is their motto. It sounds good – really good. If only it were so easy.
When a prospect or client asks, “What can you do for us?” too many agents instantly launch into a presentation about their company or products and how they solve problems for clients. And that’s their mistake. “Right now, I don’t know, but I intend to explore your situation and determine the best way we can help” are the words that make the most sense to customers.
They know that answers come from digging and finding what the client may have missed or failed to recognize because they’re too close to the situation or are being pulled in other directions.
Today’s customers are skeptics. They’ve learned from experience that many “solutions” are often overly simplistic, miss the mark, or are poorly conceived and fail to deliver on their promises.
Customers recognize that the right solutions result from proper investigation. And that takes detective work.
2. Figure it out. Digging and gathering information is worthless unless it’s analyzed so the problem — the “pain,” if you will — emerges with clarity. Rarely, are “instant insights” accurate or complete, let along correct. It takes struggling to figure how the pieces fit together, and takes time and thought so a proposed solution makes sense to the client.
It’s exciting when salespeople get their arms around a problem. It can be something like an “a-ha” experience. There’s a “rush” — an “I was born to sell” feeling.
The tendency is to assume that once the problem is figured out, it’s the time to tell the story to the customer. Since salespeople rely on their verbal skills to carry them through the selling process, they’re eager to share the good news with the client. But, slow down. We’re not there yet. Something important is missing.
Next page: Elements 3-5
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