The new way of selling is covering more ground. More and more salespeople get it; you cannot sell your solutions right out of the starting blocks. Not face-to-face and not over the phone. First, you need to have more customer situational knowledge. Your aim is to understand the customer’s situation with a business cap on. You need to ask questions like:
- What is important to you now and why?
- What are you working on?
- How do you see your business changing in the next 6-12 months?
- What has changed inside your organization?
- What has changed in your supply chain?
- What consumer changes do you see happening right now?
- What changes in your industry has made you look for different ways of doing things?
- What are your strategic initiatives?
Questions like these make you relevant. But you cannot keep asking questions forever. That is boring for your customer. You want your meeting to be a dialogue. And hence, the other person on the phone or at the table is waiting for your contribution to the conversation. And whatever you say needs to be interesting to them. You have got to share something that they either didn’t know or did know, but still, find it interesting to discuss further. You have got to share insights.
What most salespeople are struggling with, is finding insightful information and adding these into the dialogue. You should not overthink this too much. You have so much experience with other customers in similar situations and you have helped these customers to overcome their challenges. You have seen what is trending. You have noticed other customers starting to make changes to their supply chain or services. For example: “Just recently I had a customer with a similar situation like yours, and this is what they did …” Just tell your contact that. Use these examples, as long as they are relevant to the conversation. I call these Insights in Your Own Backyard.
The implication of not changing. Now you have the customer’s interest, what is your next move? Your goal is for your customer to reflect more on their own current situation. For example, you can ask: “What is the impact on your business if you do not make changes? This question triggers thoughts with your customer. In a split second, they review their current set-up, their way of doing things, and compare that to their new situation. Wait for their answer.
Things your customer may start to consider: What cost are they looking at by not reacting to the changes that were mentioned? Is their cost rising, more than they initially thought? And what effect will rising costs have on the organization? Do projects need to be stopped? Do they need to raise their prices? Does this affect customer loyalty? Do they leave the door open for their competitors to grab more market share?
What is the risk of not changing and leave everything as is?
The implication of making a change. Stakeholders are motivated in different ways. Some of your contacts are more enticed with what they could gain rather than what they would lose. So another way of using implications is turning the conversation into a positive one. What opportunities do they see by making a change? Your question triggers their thoughts on how much more revenue they could gain or how much more profitable they could be. What does being more efficient mean for their end-customer? Will a change get them ahead of their competitor? Will a different set-up give them that competitive advantage they were looking for?
Traditionally, using the second implication is something salespeople are already good at because they know what their solution can do for the customer’s business. But the first one, talking about the implication of not changing, needs some work. Practice this in the upcoming weeks on your prospect calls. Get a range of implication-of-not-changing questions ready and listen to the customer’s reaction.
Your insights and implication questions are valuable to your contact. After your meeting, they may ask themselves: “Am I currently with the right supplier, or would changing supplier be the right thing to do for our business”? What a great next move.
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