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In his book, ‘Integrity Selling for the 21st Century’, Ron Willingham comments that “traditionally, salespeople have been taught that selling is something you do to someone, not for and with someone.” From this tradition comes the mantra “ABC: Always Be Closing.” Traditional salespeople start closing the second they start speaking.
Today’s buyers, though, are much better informed than they used to be. Ron Willingham recognized this, and was one of the first to suggest that today’s buyers no longer want to be sold to. They want to buy. They want to be in control. The best salespeople today understand that the art of sales is in communicating that the customer’s needs comes before their own.
The best salespeople cooperate with the prospect, empowering them to make the buying decision rather than agree to a sale. The buyer becomes engaged in the sales process, and not a subject of it. The result is better sales, more committed customers, and higher levels of repeat business.
In this article, we discuss how you can empower your prospects to power your sales.
The first step to empowering your customer and evidencing a willingness to cooperate and engage is when you arrange the sales appointment. This is your first chance to ensure that the customer feels in control.
Let the customer pick the date, time and location for the sales meeting. This ensures they meet at their convenience, when and where they want to. They don’t feel pushed into a meeting, and they are less likely to break it.
If your calendar scheduling application allows it, let your prospect have access and book direct with you. This saves time and starts to build the trust that is essential between salesperson and customer.
Involve your customer in your sales presentation. Ask leading questions and listen to the answers. Be interested in the customer’s business, and ignore the temptation to launch into the features of your product. If you discuss the competition, respect them. Your job at this stage is to build trust in you first, and your product second. No one trusts a person who feels they need to trash the competition to gain competitive advantage.
Having gained trust, it is now time to leverage this trust. Ask the customer to expand on their business motives, strategies, problems and goals. Be prepared to answer questions, and engage in a conversation. Be aware of current industry trends, and discuss these where it is healthy to do so. Use the seven top interviewing methods of identifying customer needs:
With a clear understanding of your customer’s needs and priorities, now is the time to present the solution. By this time, you have plenty of context from a meeting which has been largely conducted by the customer – though managed by you.
Focus on the benefits, and not the features. A buyer wants to know what your product will do for them, not how it will do it. They will leave this detail to others to work out. Bamboozle the customer with technical data, jargon, and the ins and outs of every bell and whistle and you will lose the customer’s attention, and the sale.
As you discuss the benefits of your product, use the customer’s language to reiterate why your product is the ideal solution to the customer’s problems, and how it will help them achieve their goals.
Your customer is a busy person, and so will appreciate a brief sales meeting. Be fully prepared, and armed with the details the customer is likely to want to know. Make sure you have researched the customer, and discuss their business and your product with energy and passion. Your mission is to cooperate with your customer and engage with them.
Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. It helps create the environment where teams gel together, and customers are empowered in the buying process. Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and increase sales.
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