Guest Post By Colin Spence, Outsourced Sales VP, Sales Xceleration.
One of the common complaints owners of businesses often have about dealing with salespeople is that they are, well, “too salesy.” By that they mean that salespeople are often too pushy, too persistent, too determined to make a sale regardless of whether that sale is actually a solution their business needs.
It follows, then, that if this approach is seen as a problem and annoyance, it’s time for a fresh approach. It’s time for salespeople to stop pitching and pestering and start listening and problem solving.
Here’s why that matters and how to boost sales with less selling.
Your Customers Have Different Needs
The first step in freeing yourself from outdated sales methods is to understand a fundamental shift that has occurred over the last decade or more: Your prospects and customers are better informed today than ever. They know what their competitors are doing, how markets are performing and, of course, what many of their internal challenges are.
What they need from you, more than ever, are solutions within the context of those factors. They need you to help them stay competitive, increase market share, and/or improve their company operations.
They don’t need you to doggedly try to sell them your products or services simply to make a sale. Think of it this way: a sale might seem like a win to you, but if what you sell your customer doesn’t solve a problem or fill a need, it is only a complication and an expense to them.
Ditch the Pitch
Understanding the new customer mindset should help you redirect your own. Rather than the old school idea of relentlessly delivering your standard sales pitch, start a conversation.
Do you like it when a salesperson is pitching hard, not listening to you and only serving their own interests? I bet the answer is “no.” Why would your potential customers like it any better than you do?
See yourself and the prospect as equals, getting to know one another and beginning a dialogue of discovery. This approach is much less intimidating and stressful than the typical always-be-closing pursuit that leaves the prospect feeling like prey in your cross-hairs.
Remember the New Goal
The real objective of your pitch-free conversation – or series of conversations over time – should be to discover whether you and the prospect are a good fit. Whether it makes sense to continue to discuss their needs and your potential solutions. That’s it.
How do you reach that awareness? Ask questions – it is hard to learn whether you are a good fit when you do all the talking. Don’t badger, but listen attentively and ask the kinds of questions that will help you uncover the root of their “pain.” Only by discovering this can you truly know whether your product or service is a solution they need.
Simply put, listen first and propose a solution later. Even then, only offer a solution if you truly have a solution to their problem. If not, say so. It’s perfectly fine (admirable, even) to say, “From what I’ve learned during our time together, it appears the solutions we offer aren’t the best fit for your needs at this time.”
You can always point the prospect toward another reputable solution provider – even a competitor. Chances are the prospect will appreciate your unselfishness, come back to you if their needs change, and perhaps refer you to more fitting prospects.
Even if the sales process and related communications with the prospect end there, you’ll save everyone much time and trouble and stress. It probably won’t even feel like a rejection or a lost opportunity because it was really a successful discovery that it just wasn’t a good fit.
Making sales today requires a different approach. Today, boosting sales is more likely a direct result of conversations and relationship building and problem solving rather than relentless pursuit and pushing.
About the Author
Colin Spence is an accomplished and passionate Sales Executive with over 25 years of experience leading both national and global sales teams. Colin believes that sales is a science that requires both process and discipline. Colin formed Mid-Atlantic Sales Mechanics LLC to help small and medium-sized enterprises get to the next level by implementing and improving sales management and culture. As an outsourced DC-Metro area sales consultant and licensed Sales Xceleration Advisor, Colin utilizes the power of Sales Xceleration’s proven sales growth and sales management systems to increase sales and boost profits for sustainable sales performance. Colin is the mechanic who can fix your sales engine. http://midatlanticsalesmechanics.com