Before, everything was so perfect. You prepared your meetings by writing down what you wanted to achieve, followed by questions that helped you discover what your prospect needs. You wanted to understand their situation very well. You had questions about that. You wanted to know what were their problems and dissatisfactions. This would help you with letting the prospect reflect on the impact of not solving these issues and define together the need for a solution. Perfect, right? Selling was so easy. Like putting bolts on nuts, you had a solution for every need. You move from one opportunity to the next. He, with a closing ratio of 30%, why wouldn’t you continue like this? But what if this process becomes uneasy – for you and the buyer? What if your buyer has moved on, and you not? What if your bolts are broken and nothing seems to fit? What if your sales process does not fit anymore?
Flip the discovery on its head. How does your sales process sound to a potential buyer? If someone would ask you: “What are you not satisfied with? What could be improved? What is the impact if you do not solve this? What keeps you up at night? Who else is involved in this decision?” Do you recognize these questions? Do I need to continue? We are all buyers of something, and it is a universal reaction that we do not like being interrogated.
How can we do it better? We need a sales process that makes sense to us and the prospect. One that aligns our internal desire to control the conversation with the externally focused buying process. Of course, preparation is key, but a better alignment is to talk about challenges your prospect is working on. Or even better, challenges you think they should be working on.
You do that by letting the prospect discover something about themselves. Something that they didn’t know;
- What if you pointed to trends in their market they haven’t seen, and not reacting would lead to revenue loss or customers moving away to the competition?
- What if the buying group, through your facilitation, discover growth opportunities they thought were not possible?
- What if, with the data you shared, they realize their data was not correct and should start looking at a different strategy after all?
Your sales process doesn’t push your agenda, it pushes the buyer’s agenda. In the new way of selling it is not about you discovering something that can move you forward in your sales process. It is the opposite; it is helping the prospect discover something they didn’t know about themselves and can help them move forward in their buying process. The value you deliver in that conversation is totally different than it was before. Instead of adding value through your products, services and solutions, you help the customer by making sense of challenges they are working on – and that want to know more.
Forrester Research identified that salespersons who can gain the prospect’s interest to kick-start their buying process could double their closing ratios to 70%.
Through your valuable insights, your prospect realizes that to stay competitive and capture growth they need to explore change. And they want to do that with you, because your way of discovery may lead to a strategic value for them. When you hear that kind of reaction from your prospect, then you recognise your sales process fits once more.
To be continued next week with part II.
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