Selling isn’t easy. Being a sales rep means always prospecting, presenting demos, cold calling, and ultimately, trying to provide value throughout the buying experience. However, a majority of reps seem to be failing at this last point, as Forrester reports that executive buyers consider only 19% of their meetings with salespeople to be valuable. A key factor separating the great reps from the mediocre ones is their ability to provide value to each buyer in each interaction. The good news for sales organizations is that there are a number of resources and individuals who can help refine a sales strategy to better provide value to buyers. Here are 10 sales tips from industry professionals to help your team have winning interactions with buyers.
1. Develop adaptive competencies to connect with your customers.
“Whatever the methodology is you trained your sales force on, the difference between average and world-class goes beyond execution – it’s about salespeople’s adaptive competencies based on a learning culture. Adaptive competencies encompass the sales professional’s ability to adjust skills, shift knowledge and align strategies and behaviors to new, changing and complex customer situations. For sales professionals, that means being fluent in all relevant selling skills and competencies, and being fluent in various knowledge areas (customer and capability knowledge) and their specific area of expertise.”
– Tamara Schenk, Research Director for CSO Insights
2. Address the customer’s problem.
“If you really want to empower small and mid-size businesses to make meaningful change, you have to be willing to make a definitive, confident recommendation and show prospects a clear path to addressing their problem.”
– Kendra Lee, author of “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group
3. Emphasize relationships.
“The emphasis in selling should be on opening, not on closing. When you are successful in opening relationships, you will have a much higher rate of closing sales.
– Deb Calvert, author of the DISCOVER Questions™ book series and President of People First Productivity Solutions
4. Ask smart, thoughtful questions.
“Thoughtful and provocative questioning has a huge impact on close rates and sales revenues. When sales reps ask smart, probing questions to understand what their clients really need—not just what the clients think they need—the scale of projects increases, creating win/wins for everyone.”
– Joanne Black, author of “Pick Up the Damn Phone!” and “No More Cold Calling,” and Founder of No More Cold Calling LLC
5. Provide value every time.
“Every email (or phone message) you send to your prospect has to stand on its own as valuable.”
– Jill Konrath, sales strategist, speaker and the author of “Selling to Big Companies” and “SNAP Selling”
6. Provide a case for change.
“The key to creating new opportunities is to focus on eliminating homeostasis. You need to work on developing the dormant dissatisfaction that exists in many—if not most—of your dream clients. You have to build the case for change long before you create the opportunity.”
– Anthony Iannarino, Sales Coach and Sales Consultant at B2BSalesCoach.com and President and Chief Sales Officer at SOLUTIONS Staffing
7. Be an expert on the customer.
“If you want to get your customers’ attention, you need to be an expert in THEIR business and that starts with knowing what they are struggling with before you even pick up that phone or send that email.”
– Jim Keenan, CEO and President of A Sales Guy Inc.
8. Show customers how you can help them
“Don’t complain about how hard it is to reach decision makers. Instead, invest that time in working on what makes you unique, valuable, indispensable, and relevant. How can you make your prospects’ and customers’ lives and businesses better? And very importantly, how can you help them make and/or save money?”
– Art Sobczak, author of “Smart Calling” and Founder of Business By Phone Inc.
9. Don’t waste their time.
“If the customer gives you some of their time, what value are they receiving in return for that investment? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re just wasting their time.”
– Andy Paul, author of “Amp Up Your Sales” and “Zero Time Selling”
“One of the reasons leads are often not well-qualified by salespeople is because they think if someone agrees to a meeting – that’s a qualified deal. Not even close. You need to know if the buyer is being driven to buy because of a mandated priority to change something. You need to know if they have budget and can afford your fees. You need to know what the decision making process is and how many others need to be involved. To get the answers, you have to ask the questions and then listen.”
– Barbara Giamanco, author of “The New Handshake,” and President and Social Selling Advisor of Social Centered Selling LLC
There’s no magical shortcut that you can take to make your customers want to talk to you. However, there is a pattern. Each one of the tips above requires caring about your customer, knowing what they need and what is important to them, and most importantly, listening to them. Use these tips to wow your buyers and stand out from the competition. Happy selling!