Take control of the sales, and teach the customer
These sales books are all about “the new best way of selling”, “the most important advance in selling for many years”, or “proven things to boost your sales”. I’m sure most books have a lot of real content to them, but these self-proclaiming value propositions grow old fast. In this specific piece, however, there were many things that I want to try and apply in our sales team. Therefore, I won’t be spoiling you the story of this book, but, rather pick and choose what I liked. The book was a great read, and I do suggest you go and read it yourself, if solution-based selling is at any interest to you. Now, let’s take a closer look to what I’ve found.
One key attribute to the most successful sales reps seems to be the ability to take control of the sales. This ability comes from two different things: these reps are naturally more comfortable talking about money, and they’re able to “push” the customer. This really comes down to the ability to demonstrate and hold firm on value. Discussing money is easy, because they are confident in the value they will provide to the customer. From my experience, it is easy to talk about money when you have confidence that your product or service will give far greater return to the customer than what they have to pay for it. When reps have this kind of confidence, they don’t have a problem in pushing back when the customer asks for a discount, or looser terms, in other words, want to have something for free. I’ve noticed, that it’s a lot easier to let the customer have their way, when I haven’t had enough experience or knowledge on the solution I’m selling. Just the other day I sold something related to launching a new web store, and the customer asked for a lower price than I had offered. I knew it was probably too cheap of a price, but I wasn’t sure how much value we would actually create to the customer, so I just kindly agreed. Next time, I will be able to push back because I now know that this solution is far more valuable than what was paid last time, and I know how to communicate it to the customer.
It isn’t the same, however, when reps have strong confidence that their company’s products or services are number one in the market. This is unfortunately something, that the customer doesn’t really care about. The key here, is to have confidence, that you know that you’ve taught the customer about a problem they didn’t previously know they had. We have an ongoing project in our sales team, where the potential customers have no way of knowing about the kind of solution we are offering, because it has never existed before. It is our job to educate them and provide them insight to a new solution. Each time as we make a phone call, we have the opportunity to teach the customer, and confidence flows naturally there.
This kind of teaching is “all about offering customers unique perspectives on their business and communicating those perspectives with passion and precision in a way that draws the customer into the conversation.” These new perspectives apply not to your products and solutions, but to how the customer can compete more effectively in their respective market. It’s insight they can use to free up operating expenses, penetrate new markets, or reduce risk. In our sales project our solution effectively reduces the customer’s risk and lowers the need for labor work, thus freeing up operating expenses. All this added together with a completely free service, how could the customer not be excited? The hard part is to teach the customer before they decide not to listen anymore.
These are the two things I want to see in our sales team. First, that our reps have the confidence to take control of the sales through understanding the true value that they are transferring to our customer. And second, that our reps are able to offer unique perspectives on our customer’s business, new insight through solution selling so that the customer can do better in their market. If we can hit these two things, our sales team will be highly successful, and I will be a happy head of sales.