Selling to the modern, “plugged in” customer requires a different approach. 15 years ago the traditional sales approach was already reaching the breaking point in the B2B sales arena and now the “classic” sales approach of “pitching products/services” is simply not very effective .
Here are three things we have identified as classic missteps when dealing with the “modern” buyer.
Too Much Talking: Recent research by Forrester’s indicates that 90% of all buying decisions begin online. Similarly, research from the Corporate Executive Board indicates today’s buyer is almost 60% of the way through a buying decision before ever interacting with a salesperson. The traditional full press, “show and tell” approach to selling just doesn’t cut it with buyers who no longer require, nor are interested in, being educated by the seller.
A good sales call should involve the “buyer” doing 70% of the talking. If your sales team is talking more 70% the results are probably not as good as they used to be. Prospects don’t want to be sold, they need to come to their own conclusions.
Trust and credibility are built more effectively through the quality of the questions you ask than from the quality of the information you dispense. Asking great questions is an art but a very “learnable” one.
Relying On “Off The Shelf” Value Propositions: The value proposition for any product or service should be differentiated for each customer and should always be about the unique “pain” of the individual prospect. Marketing experts can certainly develop “suggested” or “typical” value propositions but todays savvy sales person knows how to use questions that allow the prospect to “discover” their “pain” and understand how the seller’s product or service can uniquely solve that pain.
Today’s successful salesperson is less of a “seller” and more of a “facilitator of the buying experience”. Rather than communicating value they are partnering with prospects in a way that allows the respective firms to “co-create value” together through the unique application of the selling firms resource capability.
This is not to imply that success for the “modern salesperson” is a passive experience. The key is to understand the difference between being “assertive” and being “aggressive” when dealing with prospects. Today’s master salesperson needs to be assertive enough to ask direct questions which take prospects out of their comfort zones and challenge their thinking about problems they may be looking to solve in a way that challenges without offending the prospect.
Once again the art is in asking questions in a systematic way that are assertive without feeling “salesy” to the prospect.
Closing The Prospect: No one enjoys the experience of being “sold” anything yet booksellers such as Amazon carry hundreds of books on the topic including Sales Closing for Dummies. One of the most universal steps in the majority of traditional selling processes is “the close” yet today’s buyers, more than ever, detest the process of someone trying to close them on anything.
Today’s successful sellers are allowing the prospect to “confirm their decision to buy” versus “going for the close.” A well-crafted solution that uniquely solves the customers pain should require nothing more than a simple question such as “how would you like to proceed” or “what would you like to do next” to confirm the buying decision. It is a subtle yet powerful distinction because you are allowing the prospect to decide to buy versus being sold the product or service.
All of the modern techniques described herein are more effective when integrated into a complete, customized selling process that can be replicated in a consistent manner by the sales team.
A study by the Brooks Group a few years back supports this assertion. According to the results of their work a salesperson who replicates a consistent sales process in each selling situation is almost twice as likely to get the business as a seller who “wings it” with a piecemeal approach.
The results from the study also indicate that this result is not dependent upon a specific sales process but is true of ANY sales process applied consistently. Imagine the impact if the sales process is aligned with how today’s “plugged-in” customers wish to buy!
- At SalesGrowth MD, we adapt the classic Sandler Sales process to fit the way customers buy today and customize it to align with your products and services. Would you like me to send you more information?