If you search on Amazon for books on selling, the list goes on for ever. The advice out there is profound, in its complexity and number, and much of it is relevant only in certain cases or when you are working in certain conditions.
Salespeople in general are always looking for how to improve their results, whether this be in productivity or in profitability. There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes, so much of what you will read and digest will have to be personalised by yourself to acquire the best information and application of that data.
One facet of sales that always intrigues our delegates on our courses revolves around the processes of differentiation in selling products and services. They know that one size doesn’t fit all cases, and their ability to personalise the approach is paramount when they are working with prospects and customers alike. The differentiation we will discuss here will help you ascertain which approach would be best for you to master.
Fortunately, we can narrow this process down to three components, and if you choose the right one, you can improve your chances of achieving a successful outcome.
The approach you choose can be determined by how badly your prospect is in need of your solution. We will call these approaches level 1, 2 and 3.
Level 1. This is where your prospect actually has expressed a desire for the solution you have to offer. You might call this the easiest sale you could make, as they have already said they need a solution like you are offering. Here, you INFLUENCE the decision-making process. By influencing, you assist the prospect to come up with the right decision for them or their business. Think of it as guiding them on the right path.
The statement might sound something like,
“By making this choice, you’ll start to see savings pretty soon, as your production will increase and your costs will go down. It really makes sense to do this as soon as possible, and I recommend we install within the next week so you can take advantage of those potential savings”
The Level 1 approach is the softest of the three, where the client is amicable and you have built desire for the results they would obtain with the solution.
Level 2. This is where the prospect has yet to make up their mind, is unsure on which way to go or has expressed doubt as to which solution would be best. Here, you can use your PERSUASION skills to help them come to a conclusion. You persuade them by helping them choose from a series of options that would help them achieve their goals. Options enhance the brains ability to choose. Not too many, of course. The optimum number is three.
It could sound something like this;
“OK, Mr Prospect, we have seen that you need to increase productivity and decrease costs. I have some alternatives for you. Firstly, the XY123 will help you reduce costs in the short-term. It’s the best choice for quick results. Another choice may be the same model with the additional capacity. The results will be longer term and you’ll get increased savings with the bulk-buying of materials. Finally, there’s the larger model, DC342, which offers all the benefits of the other model but with greater load capacity, so you spend less time reloading and re-ordering supplies.
My recommendation would be to take the larger model on our easy-pay contract, enabling you to build those savings quickly and efficiently. Do you see it the same way?”
This persuasive technique shows the prospect what the benefits are while pointing them in the right direction for their business. You persuade by highlighting the results and helping them come to the right conclusion.
Level 3. This would be where the situation has become sluggish or the process is stuck in a rut. It’s risky and can be seen as manipulative, so has to be used sparingly and with tact. It’s called FORCING THE ISSUE, and requires you to outline the pains of not making the decision and the gains of actually doing so.
It could sound something like,
“OK, Mr Prospect, we’ve looked at the alternatives and discussed what would work. I recommend we go with the DC342 because it will achieve everything you said you wanted. It will show immediate savings and, with the improved discounts I can give you on the materials, will improve your productivity as well as long-term savings. The sooner you install, the quicker those savings will show up on your bottom line. I can assure you it’s the best choice for your business. in the short-run and for long-term results.”
See…it’s risky because you’re forcing them to make a decision. But you’re also showing them the benefits of that decision. This takes a high degree of confidence and belief in your ability to give advice and you also need to have the trust of the prospect. When it works, though, they will thank you, because you are getting them out of the rut of indecisiveness.
So, those are the three levels of sales that you can work at. Try them when you next have to present solutions to prospects and see how you get on.
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“But Sean, my products and services are great. We’re the best by a mile so why don’t we get all of the business?”
It’s a question I get asked a lot!
Unfortunately, having a great product is not enough nowadays.
You still need to prospect in the right way – you can’t assume it’s coming to you!
We live in an attention age. Grabbing and keeping hold of attention is becoming more and more difficult.
Just think about what is competing for your attention?
Family, friends, work colleagues, emails, social media, sales people, marketers, news, to do lists, phone calls, social life – you name it!
We also live in an age where there is a lot of choice so the buyer has so many options to choose from.
With the help of the internet, entry to market is easier than ever before and there is always someone to undercut you!
So in an age where attention is scarce it’s those marketers and sales people that can stand out from the competition who can really grab the attention of your prospects and customers.
It’s not about being the best any longer (unfortunately) it’s about those who can grab and then continually demand the attention of those you want to sell to.
If only it was as easy as the old AIDA formula!
The issue with this is that you’re assuming it’s easy to grab the attention of someone when in reality it’s the most difficult thing going!
In fact you need to reverse this to even grab someone’s attention in the first place, like this:
So you need to take ACTION!
You need to do something different to stand out from the rest. This will create a curiosity and an interest and only then do you have the ATTENTION of someone.
Of course it’s great when you can combine innovative prospecting and marketing coupled with a great product too but the fact that you can outwit a big brand in a competitive marketplace just by being different levels the playing field completely!
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I am sure you have come across this many of times, going through all the details with a potential buyer and finding out they need to get approval from someone else or a committee. We refer to these people as information gatherers where the real buyers don’t have time to deal with salespeople. It is important to get the support of these no buyers as they are inside the company and you are not.
Watch this short video for a 5 step guide for dealing with buyers who have no authority.
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Have you ever met with a prospect and got on really well, then it ends up that they never return your calls or emails and you can’t get in touch with them?
How frustrating is that?!
There are many reasons why this may occur, but here are three myths about relationship selling that might explain them.
Firstly, the relationship that you may think you have with the prospect may not be what is in their minds. Remember that clients buy for emotional rather than logical reasons, that is, they buy from the provider they have the best feeling about. Even if you have the best price, they may well go for the company that allows them to take less risk, or provides better marketing opportunities for them.
Secondly, you might have assumed that you had sold your services because there had been no objections. But, think about it…haven’t all your previous clients had a least some questions before they signed up? No objections are a warning sign.
Thirdly, they say all the right things, and you mistake them for buying signals. There may be various reasons for this, but you have to see through them. Perhaps they are just covering for the real decision-maker. Or perhaps they like you and don’t want to disappoint you at the meeting, even though they have no intention of buying.
You may have been hooked on the relationship sell so much that you miss the fact that the prospect has a different agenda and may be leading you in the wrong direction.
Don’t get me wrong, the long-term relationship is the most important thing you can build up with a client. However, don’t put that forward as the be-all-and-end-all of the visits you make to the prospect. Don’t turn the visit into a ‘friendly’ call…make it business-like, cordial and engaging.
Aim for commitment as well as building the relationship. If you do that at each meeting, the prospect will recognise you as someone who is friendly, intelligent AND the kind of person they want to do business with.
Next time, don’t get hooked in to the idea that building the relationship is of paramount importance…it’s vital, but needs to be driven in cohort with the business that you are there to conduct. Be direct and ask for specifics. If they tell you they would like more details, ask for clarification. Ask how the order will be placed, what quantities will be involved and so on. View the smoke screens as exactly that…a screen that needs to be seen through.
Build relationships alongside sales; that way, you will bust the main myths about relationship selling.
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
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In a previous blog, we discussed some home truths that are real-world truths in 2010 and beyond. One of them was as follows:
False: Your persuasion techniques and convincing arguments will get the sale
Truth: It’s friendly, intelligent engagement that will convince the prospect they should talk to you
Many sales interactions consist of the salesperson trying to gain the upper hand by persuading the prospect that they would be making a big mistake not buying the product. Or they dump a lot of information on the prospect about benefits of the product, hoping some of it will stick.
Today’s savvy buyer has heard it all before, and their buying decision process has changed dramatically. These days they need to be convinced that they can trust you before they hear any slick presentation you may have.
You need to get engagement with the client first. This means seeing the situation through their perspective, noting what their problems and concerns may be. This involves quality questions, active listening and concerned interest in their current position. Only then can you earn the right to suggest solutions.
And when you do suggest those solutions, it needs to be done in a friendly, professional and intelligent manner, rather than reeling off a list of features that might, somehow, persuade the prospect to think of you.
All this creates a basis for trust, without which you are simply trying to take a transactional order. Friendly, intelligent engagement will provide the foundation for a long-term relationship. Even if they don’t buy from you today, you have laid the groundwork for future contact, something that no amount of persuasion or convincing arguments can guarantee. And that can only be good for future business!
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training