The end of the year is in sight and many sales managers are preparing for their end-of-year reviews with their sales teams. Gaps are identified and possible causes analyzed. Questions will be asked. How can your sales team improve next year? What should they focus on? What skills would make them more successful than this year?
I bet that, traditionally, many sales managers will focus on improving closing techniques. Their reasoning: Pipelines are sufficiently filled. Productivity is high. Sufficient balance in opportunities with existing customers and prospects. If your team could only be better at closing those deals…
Many will ask their sales trainers to come up with another version of “improved closing techniques”. They believe their secret to success is being better at that last part of the sales process. After all, that is how they were trained and have produced results. In their view closing is a skill and an art that can be learned. They are in love with closing. Unfortunately, love is blind and is also true in this context. To be more successful next year they should be in love with the opposite of the sales process: The Opening. Falling in love with the Opening is your new year’s resolution! To improve your results next year, you need to give your devoted attention to being better at the opening of your calls and meetings.
As it is with falling in love and building relationships it is not about you, but it is about the other person. In the new way of selling it really is all about your potential customer. The fact is: they have changed. They will not be sold to on features, advantages, and benefits. At one stage you may get to these, but first, they want to know if you can be a credible partner they can talk to about their situation, their challenges, the risks they are facing, and their fear of making wrong decisions. They want to know, early on in the conversation if you can be that partner and ultimately deliver a strategic outcome.
Being better in Opening does not mean asking endless questions only to uncover dissatisfactions or getting answers to “what is keeping you up all night? “. Instead, buyers expect you to know what is keeping them up all night. Every business wants to grow and make more profit. For that, they need to stay competitive. They have a vision and a strategy on how to accomplish that. But markets are moving, customers are increasingly more demanding, disruptors are around the corner and their investors want them to stay ahead of all this.
Your potential customers are after a new kind of value. Your insights! What new valuable information can you share that is worthwhile knowing for them, relevant to their situation and challenges? What is changing in their industry? What is the impact on businesses? Have they identified similar changes and possible impacts? What have reactions have you seen with other similar customers? What do you think will work and what doesn’t?
Insights, verification of findings and dialogue on impact, risks, and possible changes should all be part of your Opening. This is what buyers are looking for in salespeople. Have you fallen in love yet with Opening?
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