Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Get in to see high-level buyers; keep competitors out of your accounts
Today’s conventional salesperson is under attack. Sophisticated customers demand a collaborative or consultative approach. Time with prospects is invaluable, and limited. The prohibitive cost of today’s sales call makes conventional approaches obsolete. Organizations are scrambling to pry loyal customers away from competitors.
We’ve been close to sales managers and salespeople for over 80 years. We know their hopes and fears, their abilities, their frustrations, their problems, their feelings of victory and defeat. We’ve worked side-by-side with salespeople selling every conceivable product or service.
Based on our on-going research and direct contact with sales organizations, we see plenty of inefficiencies getting knowledgeable, well-prepared salespeople face to face or on the telephone with enough qualified prospects to hit ambitious sales targets.
Fundamental Truth's About Selling:
• Old-time salespeople are obsolete (this has been true for years)
• Prospects don’t have time to meet or listen to every salesperson
• It is more difficult than ever to find and connect with qualified prospects
• Technology does not, and cannot, replace a professional salesperson
• Professional selling is not obsolete – it’s just rare
If your customers need genuine help making their decision to buy, they demand highly trained, competent, sales professionals. They have plenty of choice so if you look and sound like competitors, you’re in fundamental trouble.
On the other hand, if you have the technical expertise the customer requires, and technical sales competence on behalf of a killer sales strategy, you might be invincible and probably have an expanding market share, high margins, and a loyal client base willingly giving you a steady revenue stream.
A balance of a strong sales strategy, wise use of technology, and highly professional salespeople consistently out-perform conventional “cold-call” salespeople, order-takers, product-peddlers, and/or technology or marketing driven initiatives. The responsibility for making sales still rests firmly on the shoulders of you, the professional salesperson. Your job is to connect with tough-minded prospective buyers by:
• Accessing a prospective buyer and quickly qualifying them
• Communicating peer-to-peer with high-level buyers
• Quickly and clearly distinguishing your product/service from the competition
• Organizing your time, territory, and sales presentation
• Having the discipline to engage in pre-call planning and rehearsals
• Knowing when to talk and when to shut up
• Listening to the prospect’s wants/needs and clearly connecting your offering to them
However, unless you can get in to see a qualified prospect, everything else is of no real value. Your job is to think like a potential buyer and create value for them in the first minute of your sales conversation.
Here’s a transcript of a salesperson tightening up his attention-getter under the guidance of a Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage Coach.
Coach: What do you specialize in?
Salesperson: A lot of our competitors are service companies whereas we deal specifically in providing solutions not just service.
Coach: Who is the target customer?
Salesperson: Business to business. Multinational. Very capital intensive, lots of equipment. Low margins. Extremely competitive, diminishing market.
Coach: What level do you typically call on?
Salesperson: Technical manager, technical director. They are the ones who get the ball rolling. We’re kind of like a technical consultant because we have decades of experience around the world customers are able to ask our opinions and exploit all the information that we’ve gathered and we have a very extensive R&D and product development group so they’re able to make use of all that.
Coach: What does that do for them?
Salesperson: This builds a comfort level for them. Knowing that they’re dealing with us, they are dealing with a company that has a good track record and has done their own homework and not just selling the latest fad as far as products are concerned.
Coach: How does that impact their business?
Salesperson: It gives them a competitive advantage over their competitors.
Now we help him or her fashion a specific attention-getter that takes the prospect’s mind off what they are thinking before the salesperson called, on to the purpose of the call – in less than 60 seconds. From this attention-getter, the salesperson secures an appointment.
Coach: Let’s try this: “We specialize in working with organizations such as yours to hang on to their valuable customers; to protect margins that are shrinking and under attack; and enter potentially profitable markets at a relatively low risk.”
Salesperson: This is [name] with [company] I know you’re probably busy so I won’t take up a lot of your time. We specialize in providing technical solutions ….
Coach: Don’t tell them about your solutions yet – what do you really do for them?
Salesperson: We specialize in helping companies like yours retain their valuable customers, protect their margins and, possibly assist them in penetrating new market at a relatively low risk.
At this point the salesperson secures an appointment. Statistically, salespeople increase their call to appointment ratios from 20 to 50% as a result of this structured approach.
Please note, we’re not advocating a canned sales pitch. Instead, the salesperson tailors three blanket benefits to each targeted prospect.
Old: “We are a technical consultant because we have decades of experience around the world, customers are able to ask our opinions and exploit all the information that we’ve gathered and we have a very extensive R&D and product development group so we’re able to make use of all that. This builds a comfort level for you. Knowing that you’re dealing with a company that has a good track record and that has done their own homework and not just selling the latest fad as far as products are concerned.”
New: “This is [name] with [company] I know you’re probably quite busy so I won’t take up a lot of your time."
"We specialize in helping companies like yours retain their valuable customers, protect their margins and, possibly assist them in penetrating new markets at a relatively low risk."
If you were the prospect, which approach would you prefer to hear?
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