We are coming to the end of the year which means a period of reflection.
In terms of transforming from a Sales Executive to a Trusted Advisor, how much have you progressed? What are your challenges? What are your actions going forward? Just that you know, you are not on your own in this transformational journey. There are thousands of sales colleagues facing the same what you are going through. Also, research companies like Gartner and others keep observing and analyzing what the progress is.
The number one observation is that the situation is declining for sales executives and managers working for companies who have not started with their transformation. They are drowning in data and are short on insights. The majority of Sales feels overwhelmed, 94% still struggle to deliver real value. So, if you have started your journey then you are a step ahead on your competitor sales colleagues.
Wherever you are in your journey, focus on what you can do, focus on what is in your circle of influence to become a Trusted Advisor. Here are my top five reflection tips:
- Your credibility is measured on your situational knowledge
Your potential customer has more access to data than ever, they know the features and benefits of your products and services already. Your credibility is not measured on your product knowledge but on your situational knowledge. Being prepared is key. You are expected to know the basics of the customer’s situation. Now add on top really interesting questions: What are senior and middle managers talking about in their meetings? What is challenging for them? What are the moves of their competitors? What triggers them to keep inventing and stay competitive? What are their immediate and longer-term objectives?
- Focus on the Buyer, not on yourself
Selling from the seller’s perspective is old-fashioned. Buyers switch off when you ask too many questions (refer to point 1) and don’t even listen to sales pitches anymore. Customers notice within five minutes your intention of making a quick sale or helping them to be more successful in whatever they are trying to achieve. What does success look like for them? Selling with a buyer’s perspective turns everything upside down. The result? The buyer starts to listen and is engaged in the conversation.
- Buyers are after a different type of value than before, lead with insights
The globalization of the world comes with challenges for big and smaller companies. It doesn’t matter where you are, your next competitor maybe a few streets away or 25,000km in a different continent. What and who are the next disruptors of their related industry? Falling into the non-competitive category is a disaster for any company. So businesses are constantly on the lookout for new, for better, for growth and profit. Your potential customer is interested in what value you can add to the complexity of staying competitive. As a salesperson, you meet with so many different types of customers. Share your opinion on what you see what works and what doesn’t work. Share your insights into what you see happening in their industry, in their world and how this may impact their business. Your potential customer will listen, they will even get more people to your meetings.
- There are more stakeholders involved than before
Organizational structures have become flatter. Everyone needs to be heard, everyone is involved. There is more transparency created amongst cross-functional managers than ever. Although this is a good thing, it also adds to the complexity of buying. Because everyone has an opinion. As a result, there are managers who are content with their current situation of chosen suppliers where others think it is time for a change. This is your new focus, find those who are in favor of a change and help them to get a greater consensus in favor of a change. Be aware, you got to meet with more contacts across more functions and levels, than ever before
- Be strategic, which comes at a price
Selling only features, advantages and benefits of your products and services will drive Buyers to compare line by line the differences and proposed added values versus your competitors. It becomes a spreadsheet exercise and you are not going to win enough. In fact, in most cases you are asked, if you want the deal, to sharpen your pencil. Breakaway from this and start adding strategic value. Bring insights, new ideas, new information that the potential customer was not aware of. Because of you, they change their perspective on their situation. They uncover risks they did not see before. Because of you, they will challenge if their own set-up is still good enough to stay ahead on their competitors in the years to come. Your advice triggers them to see new opportunities arising when making a change. This is the new value buyers are after and they are willing to pay for it.
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