Written by Sean McPheat |
31 December, 2010
Our buyers have changed over the past few years. Those who were around in the early part of this century have either been replaced, moved on or changed the way they buy.
Selling in the same way as we always have means we miss out on opportunities, because the buyer who bought from us with that style doesn’t exist any more.
Today’s buyers are more sales savvy, have different needs and offer more challenges than ever before. What can we do to meet these new challenges?
I believe there are three key skills you can develop that will increase your chances of gaining more business:
Become more collaborative and consultative in your role
Become more proactive with your best customers
Widen the difference between you and your competition
Let’s take these in order:
Becoming more collaborative and consultative means identifying how you can build and maintain a relationship with your buyers, partnering with their organisations. Collaboration means working with people inside and outside your company to create close working relationships with people who can help their businesses thrive in the current economic climate.
By collaborating you will not only learn about the products your customers sell, but also be able to use that expertise to better serve your customer as a true subject matter expert, not just a knowledgeable sales person.
You need to understand and demonstrate the real impact you and your product will have on the customer and their objectives.
By becoming a collaborative resource your customer will not only see more value in your meetings, but begin to rely on you as a source of valuable knowledge about the industry and the processes they need to deal with day to day. This allows you to move the discussion from the product or service and onto areas that will make a real difference to the way your customer markets their services to their customers.
Get into your buyer’s world, and understand their market through their eyes. This gets you more engaged with the customer, offering more than just the products and services in your portfolio
Secondly, you need to become more proactive. We have often talked about why buyers buy…to relieve the pain of the current situation or grow towards an opportunity in the future. Without that movement, most buyers will stick with what they currently have, without realising the opportunities they are missing, or are willing to tolerate what they know is inefficient. Some prospects have stopped looking because they believe there is no alternative, or no affordable alternative.
As a proactive seller you need to understand and focus on the fact there is a viable cost effective alternative with a real return on the investment they have to make. You need to focus on the cause, not the symptom.
This helps you develop a solution that the prospect maybe had not considered before, offering a direction and a way out that will assist their business to move in a direction that they hadn’t seen or though of before. This is where the true partnership starts to develop and the prospect becomes a customer or client that comes to rely on you as a solution to their problems.
Next we look at widening the difference between you and your competition. In my ‘Sales Person’s Crisis’ Book (you can download your free copy below), I talk about how much more knowledgable customers have become these days, and how important it is that you take your products away from being classed as a commodity. Many buyers we talk to find it difficult to differentiate all the services and products that are available to them.
So what can you do?
You can start by building value in the customer’s eyes before you start to sell. This may well involve taking the product out of the equation and differentiating by what you as the sales consultant can offer that the customer would miss without you. This means your approach and process become the differentiators. What value does the customer get by dealing purely with you?
How much do you know about the customer’s business? Their industry? Their products? Their customers? Their competitors?
How much more can you help them with than their current suppliers can, so they come to see you as a business partner rather than just a salesperson, like all the others?
If you can consider yourself as being collaborative, consultative and proactive, there will be every reason for your client to see you as a business partner of real value to them, now and in the future.
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