Understanding how potential buyers work is crucial to being an effective sales person. The days of simply cold calling from a purchased data list or (for those of “a certain age”) the Yellow Pages are long gone. Modern sales people need to be smarter, better educated and prepared to think outside of the basic features and benefits of their product or service.
So how should you approach a potential customer?
Firstly, understand the buyer’s business and get to know them before you engage with them.
This is absolutely crucial to opening the door. Check out the web site and look for news or content that gives you an insight into what might be important to the prospect BEFORE you make first contact. If you understand the buyer’s business, you’ll show credibility and avoid asking unnecessary questions.
Secondly, polish your communication skills.
Don’t launch straight into a “tell, sell” sales pitch. Listening is far more important than talking in the early stages… explore the prospect’s challenges and requirements before you try and pitch a solution.
Thirdly, selling doesn’t end when the sale is closed.
For a customer, the decision to buy your product or service is just the first step… it’s the implementation or use of your product that creates the value that the customer wants and needs. Follow up post-sale, check that the buyer is happy with your product and promptly address any issues that may have arisen.
Fourthly, continue to provide insights.
This will make you stand out from your competition. You never know, demonstrating continued interest in the customer’s business might open up new opportunities.
So what does all this mean in practical terms?
Call preparation is not optional.
We all complain about bad mass prospecting emails that come from salespeople who clearly didn’t do ANY research on the recipient of the message.
Balance product knowledge with business acumen.
Don’t get me wrong.. product knowledge and expertise are hugely important, but they’re not the whole story. Understanding precisely what using your product means to the buyer will position you as an expert and build credibility.
Frame your messaging in terms of value.
Customers don’t buy products… they buy the value that they derive from products. All of your messaging, whether it’s communicated via email, LinkedIn or on the phone needs to highlight the business value that you provide.
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