The meaning of resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. Most people won’t stick to their New Year’s Resolutions because they do not make a firm decision. Most decisions we make in life are tackling problems or taking advantage of opportunities. We do this every day without even thinking too much about it. Firm decisions, however, have a longer-lasting impact. For example, deciding to invest in something or finally deciding to put that downpayment on your first house.
In Sales, we have come to a point where firm decisions are needed to survive. Many of you still do not believe this. And why should you if you smashed your last year revenue targets? But if you haven’t noticed it yet, you are less in control of your future success. Instead, your buyers are. There is currently an ever-widening gap between the sellers’ and buyers’ worlds. Buyers are more and more comfortable doing research independently, without connecting with salespeople. That means your job is in danger. You will be squeezed out if you are no longer seen as a core information source. It is time to change before it is too late. It is time to make firm resolutions.
Below is a list I would like you to think about. Print them out if you like. Stick them on your fridge. Or, keep them close to your workstation or laptop. They are worth looking at daily. The next step in the evolution of selling is advancing fast. Hop on that bus and change your selling habits.
1. Give up on your traditional sales process
Buyers decide in the first five minutes of a meeting if they should keep you longer at their table or not. Asking loads of questions where the answers are all for your benefit will not interest the customer. You are no longer the information seeker. Instead, your Buyer is. They have raised the bar. Stakeholders are looking for information they do not know and is relevant to their business challenges. The time of asking: “What is keeping you up all night”? is over.
Instead, they expect you to tell them what should keep them awake all night.
2. You need to move on from Solution Selling
Although, in the end, you still sell a solution, you do not lead conversations with your solution. Customers are not interested in how good, how big or how special you are. They are not waiting for explanations of what you sell. They are also tired of all your questions discovering needs or wants and then linking these to your solution. They have heard these all before. You should ask yourself: Have I moved on from Solution Selling?
3. It is not about closing deals, but instead about building business cases for change
Selling is not about the use of closing techniques or refining your sales pitch. Customers have heard these all before. That approach is also very self-focused. You need to be other-focused. In selling there are no tricks, there is no fast-forward button. What it is about is helping your stakeholders with their business challenges. If they are looking for growth, are they able to achieve that with their current set-up? Or is their focus on increasing profits? Will they deliver that objective by staying the same? In 2022 promise yourself one thing: Slow down and focus on the customer’s business challenges. You are not selling anything yet. You are just there to help your customer to see a different perspective on their challenges. You are helping them with building a business case for change.
4. You need to sell with the buyer’s perspective.
Aligning your sales process with the buying process will set you apart from your competitor sales reps. Whatever phase your customer is in – Why Change? Change to What? Change to Who? Commit to Change – you know exactly what to do. You know what you would like the customer to discover about themselves and the commitments you would like them to make.
5. Gain consensus on change from the larger buying group
Flatter organisational structures have caused more stakeholders to be involved in making decisions. They all have ideas about how their business challenges should be tackled. Often they drive their own priorities and agendas. Ask yourself: What business goals do they have in common? Lift your sales conversation to a business conversation and for them to see that a change of set-up is the right thing to do for their company. Gaining consensus on that is the new closing. The more you are aware of this the better. In 2022 make it a goal to meet with more stakeholders per customer than last year. Don’t scare away from meeting with key stakeholders in Finance, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service. You will see how much you will find out, even if they are the Hidden Competitor.
6. Your value is not tactical, it is strategic
Ask yourself: What do I know, what can I share that shines a different perspective on their challenges? What trends do you see that will impact the customer’s business? For that, you will use your business acumen to talk to middle and senior management about their business. You have got ideas. You share stories to help them recognize that it makes sense to explore a change. Because remaining with their current set-up will not deliver the results they are looking for. They are not looking for making a tactical change. That will only distract their organisation – and only for a small price change, it is not with it. Only if you can help them strategically advance versus their competitors they will be all ears.
Six promises. Resolutions are about giving something up, adapting and committing to something new. Ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on each of these promises where are you on that scale? And what do you need to do to get you from a 6 to an 8? The higher your score, the more you will be seen as a Trusted Advisor. That is the new salesperson Buyers are looking for in 2022.