Tag Archives: selling value

Remind Me?

How often should / must we remind our customers of the value we bring to the table?

Is a once-per-year reminder sufficient? How about twice per year? Three times?

Most people agree that, ideally, they’d like to “remind” their customers many more times each year; in fact, they say they’d like to keep a reminder of some sort in front of their customers as frequently as possible.

This leads us to a couple of critical questions:

  1. How often should we remind our customers of the value we provide?
  2. How should we do it?

Questions about the ideal contact frequency are among the most frequently-asked (see our previous post for some added perspective…) Generally speaking, sales calls and marketing messages become “over-done” when they fail to provide value to the customer or prospect.

This leads nicely to our second question how will we accomplish this value-added approach? Here are three simple and proven best-practices that can help:

Master the practice of pre-call planning. The most successful sales people plan their calls very carefully, based on research and record-keeping (i.e., effective use of a C.R.M. system), thus their calls tend to be more value-added. These sales people are able to accomplish more during each call and have a stronger impact on each customer or prospect. Even better, they use the written pre-call plan as a post-call review tool.

Questions are the answer. If we do plan our sales calls or presentations, many of us tend to focus on our “speaking points.” In other words, the things we plan to say.

When planning and executing sales contacts, it’s better to put an equal amount of focus and thought into the things we will ask.Asking the right questions is how we learn about our customers’ needs, interests, priorities and challenges; it is how we determine what to do and say next; it is how we solidify true selling relationships. As a rule-of-thumb, try to craft questions that focus on what people are trying to accomplish rather than on what they “think they need.”

In addition, a frequent by-product of asking good questions is enhanced listening. It’s much easier to listen if we stop talking! Good listening also sends a strong implied message to our customers: we care!

Develop a proactive style. This simply means that we end each interaction with a specifically-defined consequential next step a call to action in which we take the proactive position. This helps in several ways.

  • It sets the stage for a higher contact frequency
  • It shows the customer or prospect that we care and that we value their business
  • It often makes things easier for our customer, by helping them to get things done in a timely fashion
  • It shortens the selling cycle
  • It confirms our professionalism

 

“SP” Selling Can Be Expensive!

missinglinkWe’ve observed a troubling habit that many sales people have fallen-into, which is costing them and their organizations significantly in terms of lost opportunities or unrealized profit.

Perhaps you are familiar with the “SPIN” Selling System, which is based on the work of British research psychologist Neal Rackham.

If so, then you know SPIN is a mnemonic representing a precisely defined sequence of four question types that enables a salesperson to move a selling conversation logically from exploring the customers’ needs to designing and presenting comprehensive, compelling solutions.

The question types are:

  • Situation Questions – to learn about bigger-picture issues and processes
  • Problem Questions – to uncover needs or objectives
  • Implication Questions – to confirm or determine the effect or consequences of the problem (s)
  • Need Payoff Questions – to quantify the benefits of the proposed solutions to the problem (s)

While we shared additional details about “SPIN Selling” in one of our previous newsletters, the point of this article is to share our observation that far too many sales people implement what we’ve termed “SP Selling” instead of a more complete process such as SPIN Selling.

In other words, these reps are pretty good at assessing situations and, to a lesser degree, simple or explicit needs (Problems, as defined by the SPIN method). But then they commit the cardinal selling-sin of making premature presentations.

These presentations are premature because without a more in-depth assessment that incorporates something comparable to the “IN” components of the SPIN Selling System, it is very difficult to establish sufficient value.

Consequently, the resulting “premature” presentation or value-proposition tends to come across as feature-rich and benefits-poor, or sounds more like an old-fashioned sales pitch based more on “what we offer” rather than “what you’ll get.”

One good way sales professionals can avoid this pitfall is to engage in more diligent pre-call planning – in writing!

When done right, this simple step gives the seller a straightforward guideline to follow during sales calls so they avoid the temptation of presenting solutions too early.

If you’re wondering how to define “too early,” consider that if we don’t know the answers to the following two critically-important questions — without those answers beginning with the words “we” or “I” — then we should continue to probe more deeply to uncover needs, implications and the “need payoff” as defined above:

  1. Why should the buyer listen to me or accept my proposed solution?
  2. What measurable benefit or benefits will the buyer’s organization realize if they should do so?

For an example of one simple planning tool that can help you plan the best sales calls in less time, you can download a free “4.0 Planning Tool” from our web site.

As you’ll see, the challenge will be to properly identify the fourth “O.”