Selling is an exercise in persuasion, I know no one wants to be sold, they want to buy, but even in creating that “buying environment”, we are persuading. And if you are part of that minority that is willing and capable of engaging and selling to the group sellers describe as status quo, usually the least willing to engage with sellers, after all “they are all set”; then there is no question that you are persuading. Probably selling better and more than sellers sticking to safer, easier segment of the market; these would be the sellers looking to be “found”, waiting for buyers to realize they have a “need”, and then look to “find” someone who will sell it to them on their terms (that is at the lowest price). I know I am seasoned, but I think we can call that type of selling what it is, which is order taking.
The best sellers go beyond selling, beyond persuasion, they strive to inspire. This means taking yourself and your product out of the process, and putting the entire focus on the buyer, their objectives and a healthy dose of the buyers’ aspirations. And while all sellers are capable of doing this, it seems to be beyond what many sellers are willing to do.
It starts with understanding the underlying factors of why people buy, and then using those to develop an interview strategy based on that. The products and services we sell only make an appearance once that interview strategy is complete. If you are used to “presenting”, this will be hard. The five underlying hot buttons or factors are rooted in Avoiding Risk, Financial Gain, Improved Productivity, Creating a Time Advantage, and the hardest – the buyer’s Self Interest. What makes the sale interesting, is that while there are similarities within verticals and roles that can be leveraged, they are not always the same. This means that it has to be adopted as a process, not as a specific set of questions.
First you do need to understand where you have address the five factors in previous successful sales, to specific roles within specific types of companies, think of it as buyer profiling (a positive for a change). Some of the above hot buttons will surface more often than others, clearly being the ones you can better, but not exclusively, leverage. Not exclusively because you want to cover all to ensure that you AND the buyer are fully engaged. Now you will know why people buy based on understanding their challenges, what you and your company’s offering can bring to address those challenges, i.e. your advantages to the buyer; and finally what impact you and your company have specifically delivered.
Armed with this, you are now ready to develop questions that will get the buyer to put their objectives and opportunities on the table, and the challenges they may face in attaining those objectives, in essences getting them to put the issue on the table.
Only once you have gotten them to put those issues on the table, are you ready to start positioning your offering.
By definition, a solution solves an issue, challenge or problem, a buyer may have; notice no mention of pain, as challenges or problems can be encountered in the pursuit of positive challenges as well, i.e. becoming the dominant player in the market, so why introduce a negative? Until you have been able to get the buyer to state their challenges, there really is no need for a solution. Which is why your product, you value prop, and all the usual crap, has no place here. Your role is to engage, and inspire the status quo buyer to believe that there is a means to attaining something they did not feel they could do before, which is why they felt “they were all set”. But inspired by the possibilities inherent in the interview strategy and the questions you deployed, you can inspire them to take action.
What’s in Your Pipeline?