Tag Archives: consultative selling

It’s Not About Us & No One Really Needs a Shovel!

Too many selling presentations focus on “what we do or what we offer.”

In other words, if we’re not careful, our presentations are all about us. If we’re not careful, when presenting we focus on  the features of our products or the details of our services, as in:

“We offer the largest, most-advanced…”

“Our support services are the most comprehensive…”

“Our team has an average of over 5 years experience…”

“Our widget comes in six different styles and colors…”

“We provide the fastest turn-around in the industry…”

“Our software solution has the best interface…”

Consider how much more effective it could be if, instead, we make our customers or clients the stars of each presentation!

“Our clients enjoy an immediate surge in productivity, and at least a 5:1 R.O.I. in the first year alone…”

“Our customers increase up-time by 50% on average…”

“The average user of our services experiences a 20-30% boost in sales revenue…”

“On average, organizations using our approach have reduced workforce turnover by half, and have improved the customer experience as well…”

This perspective isn’t new, but it’s often forgotten.

Possibly this is because as our organizations introduce new products and services, or when they make improvements to what we sell, we find ourselves intrigued with the updated versions or the latest developments and, therefore, we are compelled to talk about these things.

But these new features, bells and whistles more often fail to WOW buyers, because buyers are most persuaded by what’s in it for them (W.I.I.F.T.)!

So, instead of telling others about what we do or what we’re offering, it is better to tell them about what they will get!

Tell them how they will benefit and they will become engaged!

Even better, they will want to know more! They will most likely place greater value on our solutions as well, which can help us build stronger value propositions, increase margins, reduce competition, and shorten selling cycles all at the same time!

Of course as simple as this may sound, we realize it’s not easy. The first step will involve a conscious effort to distinguish between features and benefits, and then to modify not only the way we think (i.e., think in terms of the customer and WIIFT) but also how we communicate.

A simple and easy way to get started might be to adopt the following phraseology:

“Because of [FEATURE], you get [ADVANTAGE], which means [BENEFIT]”

By applying this thought process before interacting with customers or prospects we can shift our thinking and, hopefully, our communication style, away from features/price and instead focus on benefits/value by stressing the “which means…” part of the equation.

As the saying goes, “No one ever really needs a shovel…”

(They just need a hole.)

Who’s In Charge of Our Sales Calls?

sellwithconfidenceWe all strive to take control of the sales calls we make, hoping to comfortably lead each conversation to a productive conclusion i.e., closing or advancing the sale.

But many sales people struggle to articulate exactly how they go about controlling their sales calls, often confessing that they more-or-less go with the flow.

If this sounds familiar, you might consider making a more strategic approach to taking charge during sales calls by applying two simple principles:

  1. Ask more questions. Consider that the person asking the questions tends to be the one in control of most conversations. This can be challenging for some of us because we tend to talk too much! But, truth be told, we’re better-off asking questions and listening before we speak.
  2. Commit to the practice of pre-call planning, and do so in writing! Be sure to identify multiple objectives, list benefit statements you’ll make and, to support the suggestion made in item #1, make a list of the questions you’ll ask. Make sure to include both open-ended and closed-ended options, which can be used strategically to either promote or control the flow of conversation.

Those who have been able to apply these two simple suggestions have consistently reported significant changes (for the better!) in their sales calls, indicating not only improvements in maintaining control but also in optimizing results.

But more significantly, we’re not the only ones who will notice the difference in the quality of our sales calls our customers and prospects will notice the difference too!


The Order of Things…

readyfireaimDoing things in the proper sequence is often critically-important.

For example, in mathematics we have the standard order of operations. If we’re to reach the right solution our calculations must be performed in the right sequence, which is “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and then Addition and Subtraction.” A common technique for remembering this sequence is the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

Similarly, a good chef will tell you that the key to success when following a recipe is to not only add the right quantity of the right ingredients, but also to do so at the right time.

And as depicted in the image above, if we fail to aim before we fire, we are likely to miss our target!

So… there is an order of things.

And this “order of things” certainly applies to the selling process. Consider this simple but not-always-easy sequence, which helps sales professionals establish personal value, engage their customers, and shorten selling cycles:

  • Sell yourself
  • Sell the company
  • Then sell products and services

Read the full article…


Customer Need Assessment: One Size Does Not Fit All!

A number of seasoned sales professionals recently acknowledged that they often find themselves assuming that they know what their customer need without conducting a detailed need assessment. An approach, they quickly agreed, that is often dangerous.

In truth, regardless of what type of business we’re in or how long we’ve been in it, gauging our customers’ and prospects’ needs requires diligence and it requires more than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Here are a few proven best practices:

  • Never assume the customer knows everything necessary to make the right choice
  • Focus on what each customer is trying to accomplish rather than what “they think they need”
  • Look beyond product and service needs for related or hidden needs
  • Develop a consistent method of uncovering these basic and not-so-basic needs… a standardized need assessment method 
  • Take the extra time to double-check and confirm established needs, specifications and expectations

Read the full article…

Sales Malpractice

Defined as “…prescribing medicine or medical treatment without sufficient knowledge of the patient’s condition,” malpractice is an odious word.

Similarly speaking, the sin of “sales malpractice” is committed countless times each day, often with devastating consequences. Business relationships are compromised, orders are lost, time is wasted and needs are left unfulfilled because of sales malpractice.

Sales malpractice happens when sales people fail to properly assess or recognize customer needs, interests and priorities. The transgression tends to be committed unintentionally, as well-intentioned sellers plod on with ineffective pitches, one-sided sales spiels and misdirected presentations, offering solutions that don’t quite fit.

Fortunately, the malady is easily avoided!

Creating and then diligently executing a customer needs assessment (CNA) plan is the answer. And, to avoid any misconceptions, the CNA must be conducted early in the selling process, and must be regularly confirmed during more lengthy selling cycles.

In addition, an effective CNA must go well beyond asking customers what they think they need!

Successful needs-assessment involves learning about what each customer is trying to accomplish; it requires thoughtful questions, focused listening, a situational analysis and confirmation of the facts.

In today’s consultative selling model, all customer needs must be assessed and confirmed before any solutions are offered; no presentation can be made, no advice given, no proposal written, no quote submitted until all factors have been carefully considered.

Only then can a solution be offered in good conscience.

Sales Process Innovation

In one of last year’s posts we listed ten advantages of having a defined sales process.

And last spring we shared similar perspectives on 
the value of a systematic sales management process as well…

Today we came across an interesting series of blog posts referencing process innovation, which has been defined as “an innovation t
hat significantly changes the speed, cost, and/or an aspect of the quality of the process or service and has the potential to change the competitive landscape.”

Since selling and sales management are among what we believe to be the most complex work processes, the information and guidelines shared in these posts could be real game-changers for any organization looking to widen their competitive edge.

Read more…