Many salespeople realize that the old sales diagnostic approach has flaws. Following the step-by-step sales process to “uncover the buyer’s need” is becoming less effective. And a focus on uncovering dissatisfaction will lead to a dead-end street. Why is that? Because In the eyes of the prospective customer, there is no perfect supplier. Equipped with internet research, they create spreadsheets comparing you to others. To the buyer, you just don’t stand out enough. You and your competitors all look the same. Yes, their current supplier has imperfections, but so do you. Where the customer currently experiences dissatisfaction in one area, changing to you may lead to imperfection in another. They much prefer a fix over change.
The better approach is to sell with the buyer’s perspective, and see how you can help with growing their business and achieving their profit targets. What is the company trying to achieve as a business? What are their plans to outsmart their competitors? Once you have a better picture of that, then you can ask the question, if their current set-up is solid enough for their strategy. These questions are triggering an interest that will get you further. Your focus is not on the shortcomings of your competitor, but on risks you see for the company not achieving its strategy and goals.
True, you can only ask this question if your contact is on a manager’s level. The lower you are in “the food chain” the more people are concerned about efficiencies and improving their day-to-day work. For example, a warehouse operator’s concern is not the company’s profit but rather controlling the cost per move and not exceeding personal over-time costs. But the same warehouse operator may be your entry point into middle management, whose responsibilities are achieving revenue targets and keeping the overall company’s costs down.
At middle management meetings, keep the momentum of interest going, through sharing insightful information that is relevant to the prospect’s business challenges. Your situational knowledge and honest curiosity about how you can help, position you as a business person and advisor, rather than someone who sells something. Share stories of how you have helped others in similar situations. Keep your eyes on their business objectives. You are on their side. The discussions are not about products and services comparisons, but about how a change can achieve a better-looking world with impressive business outcomes. A world with strategic advantages. Now, your prospect would rather change than fix.
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