Many salespeople have not realized yet that the selling game has changed and continues to change in favour of the buyers. Already equipped with more information and competitor comparisons about possible solutions, customers accelerate their knowledge of choices through the use of big data, AI, software Apps and tools that did not exist five years ago. If you think that you can come with brochures and spreadsheets to the customer table on how your services differ from the competition, you can forget that approach. Your prospective customer will have already the same information, similar spreadsheets, probably even better. They are not after that type of information because they already got it. So, why do they still meet with salespeople?
Although equipped with tonnes of information, many buyers also realize they do not know everything and will keep inviting salespeople to their meetings, this time with different expectations. In their surge for growth, more profit and competitiveness they will keep meeting with salespeople as long as these meetings are valuable. Salespeople need to realize that the customer’s expectation of what type of value you bring to the meeting has changed.
So, what are the customers of today after, what do they value, what are their new expectations?
You come prepared. First, they expect you to know more about them before you even meet them. Not only on what they do and who their customers are but also on what they are trying to achieve to stay ahead of their competitors. What are their business pressures?. How do they intend to grow their business? The more you know, the less time you have to spend on basic situational knowledge. And that is appreciated by the buyer. Knowledge is the new currency of trust.
You care. In his book The Go-Giver, Bob Burg says: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust”. To advance a sale you need to have the customer’s interest in mind. It is not about “closing the deal” but how you can help them be more successful.
You have business acumen. Many salespeople fail to win opportunities because they don’t know enough about business. Your prospective customer is actually not that much interested in how much you know about your products, this was doing the job in the past. Now they want someone who understands their business and who can help them solve their business challenges. They want to talk to a businessperson, not a salesperson. They acknowledge that the best service and quality will never come at the best price. As long as you can explain the return of their investment and helps them to achieve what they are trying to achieve.
You have insights and ideas. You come with new and relevant information that shines a different light on your customer’s situation. It may change their perception of risks they haven’t thought about before. Or is opening their eyes to opportunities they did not explore before or thought were even possible. If you could be a fly on the wall at your prospective customer senior management meetings, you would hear their concerns, their challenges and also the opinions of multiple stakeholders on possible next steps and solutions. Now it is your turn to share your opinion. You have seen with other customers in similar industries what works well and what doesn’t. Your prospective customer would like to hear that.
You drive consensus The average amount of stakeholders involved in major decision making has risen to 6.8. A major change is not taken lightly and every stakeholder’s opinion will be heard. This means that the power to decide is often spread across several departments and multiple levels. Thus, the real influence is often further down the organizational chart than it used to. These influencers may not be at the top of the food chain, they are now a valid stakeholder in the eyes of the final decision-maker. Have you done your homework? Have you understood the different angles of issues and challenges your prospective customer is facing? You are expected to talk the language of operations, finance, marketing and the CEO. There needs to be a consensus to explore change.
You take ownership. Last but not least, once you won a new account you are expected to own the outcome. The new way of selling customers comes with customers holding you accountable for the results you sold. You may delegate several tasks that come with onboarding new customers to others in your organization, but you are in charge of delivering what you promised. You talk business and you deliver business.
Working on these new expectations will enable you to sell with a buyer’s perspective, win more business and set you apart from your competitor sales reps.
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