Sales Techniques begins with Planning and Preparation.
Sales is a process, not an event, meaning that planning and preparation are sales techniques. This technique is about learning to gather information and insights about a contact plus their company. Being competent to have an in-depth discussion about a customer’s industry, markets, news and trends is often one of the sales techniques salespeople struggles with. Coming armed with insights will not only help build credibility with the customer but also show that you have a genuine interest in their business. Start by using social media to gather some insights, use Google news or companies blog for announcements, research their industry for trends and forecasts. The more information, the better as it can help build a picture of the customers challenges etc. Now plan out the steps, questions and discussions for the call, meeting or presentation. Using the insights, you have gathered, create a personalized value proposition for this customer and what is it in for them to listen to you. Don’t forget to also plan out the opening statement and 3 or 4 discovery questions so you can get their awareness and attention based on your knowledge.
Challenge the Status Quo.
Learn to challenge the customers status quo because in sales the biggest competitor in securing a deal is not the competition but the buyers status quo position. Status quo comfort or the natural inclination for people to avoid change is one of the biggest obstacles in sales. On a scale of 1 to 10 for sales techniques difficulty, this one is an 8 or 9. The sales skill here is to understand the customers status quo then uncover everything that makes up their status quo to determine how, if, why and when any change would be required or more importantly accepted internally. To master the sales technique of challenging the status quo, we need to change our mindset to “Servant Sellers”. Servant sellers are willing to work with the buyer as a change agent. This involves undertaking all the grunt work, the running around, the gathering of information from multiple parties and other members of the buying committee who will also not have shifted their status quo position.
The sales techniques include magnifying the pain points, making the challenges, obstacles or opportunities as real as possible plus positioning the true cost of doing nothing as unbearable. The result we all look for is that our proposed solution gets moved up on the customer’s priority to-do list.
A few questions to note are:
“How would you describe your current situation? (in relation to your product)”
“What is your process for [name it] right now?”
“Which improvements would you seek if you had a choice?”
“Is there anything about your current solution to [name it] that you wish was easier?”
“Could you help me understand this better?”
“Could you help me understand this better?”
“What is the impact of leaving things as they currently are?”
“What would you consider to be the obstacles in finding a solution?”
“What is the knock-on effect and cost to the business if your current solution can’t [ scale, adapt, cope, change, etc]?”
“What insights or event would trigger you to explore alternative options now?”
Be a MOP – Master of Performance.
All the worlds a stage, and salespeople are the players who make buying easier. You see, every single interaction with a customer is an opportunity to perform, to build credibility, to influence, to be seen as useful, and to gain their trust. Everything from our tone of voice, from the way we dress, to what is said and just as important – how it is said, is all part of the sales performance. The quality and relevancy of the information we impart is what determines how we progress. People buy from experts and advisors, so confidence is vital. Similar to an actor, learn to tell stories, talk at a measured pace to allow the words flow naturally. Use facts or data with a raised pitch within the story to display confidence. Have the business acumen to know the customer is asking themselves “Why should I listen” and “How are you different from my current supplier”. So be prepared to answer this as part of your sales performance.
Sales 3.0 is about Collaboration.
Use collaboration to uncover sales opportunities, remember the switch rate ratio is 54% listening to 46% talking. Practice and measure the switch rate that you and the customer take turns listening and then talking. This sales technique allows for the flow of information to be two-way. Some sales training will help you master the sales skill of “active listening”, this opens the door to insights, allowing us to work together to help find the solution that best meets the customer’s needs. To help the switch rate runs smoothly, have a list of discovery type questions to ascertain if any real sales opportunity does in fact exist.
“Where are you experiencing the biggest challenges?
“What has been your own experience in trying to narrow down solutions in the past?”
“What type of events or trends would make you review your current solutions?”
“In which area [personalized to product] are you seeing most challenges?”
“What is your process for going about solving these issues?”
“What would be the criteria for you to consider solutions or options to [name it]?”
“In an ideal world, when do plan to have found some options for consideration?”
“What would the normal decision-making process for my type of solution be?”
Real sales collaboration shouldn’t be rushed, receiving insightful and honest answers will give a good indication of whether there is a sales opportunity or not. If the switch rate is highly interactive, the questions and answers should reveal the customers main pain points. This allows for a progression in the sales process, however if no opportunity exists or can’t be crystalized then it is time to move on.
It’s about Buying Ease not Buying Please.
The sales mindset here is Let me work for you and show you what you need to complete this purchase.” The customer does need more, they already live in a world of more- more information, more data, more options, and more people involved in a buying decision.
We need to focus on buying ease, to bring clarity in the sales process. To collaborate and help customers simplify the buying process, to make it easier to buy. Research shows customers who experience a high level of “buying ease,” opt to do with that supplier, in fact they are 62% more likely to win the deal. Buying ease includes making the customer feel comfortable about moving out of their status quo, that new possibilities are only positive, that the cost of change is manageable, to show them how to sell the solution internally and then make buying easier by being a servant seller.
Sales techniques are a never ending and constantly changing story. They reflect the environment we sell into and our customers evolving preferences for how they buy.