Among the many challenges facing business today are tightened market conditions, increased competition and reduced budgets. The challenge is therefore to be more competitive and efficient. So said Ivor Jones, chairman of the ThinkSales corporation at the opening of this year’s ThinkSales Sales Leadership Conference. “Greater market analysis, extended customer analysis, sales force sizing and structure, sales force alignment as well as your company structure all have a role to play in driving your desired sales results,” he continued. “The speakers throughout this conference will be addressing these and other challenges.”
Day one of the two-day conference kicked off with Nic Read, founder of SalesLabs in the US, discussing how sales teams can access the C-suite of companies. His core message was that buying today has changed – but selling hasn’t, leaving a huge gap in realizing sales targets. “The democratisation of information means that companies already know everything about you and your company before you even walk through the door. There isn’t anything you can tell them that they don’t already know. So you need another reason to walk through that door – and keep coming back.”
According to Read, that ‘thing’ is adding real value to clients. “Every company has issues and problems that they are focusing on solving. You need to recognise these and help them get there. To really access executives, you need to not only be a sales representative, you need to become a trusted advisor, offering them information, insight and advice pertinent to their industry.”
Even if your company delivers on the sale well, in today’s climate that does not mean you are a shoe-in for the next deal. Why? Because sales consultants often do not track value throughout the deal. “You need to make a promise, show what you are doing, highlight what your customer’s staff are saying about the way you are delivering on that promise and then offer all the new ideas you have had along the way. Tell your customer, ‘we have been tracking and discussing the experience of your team with our product/service, and these are the ideas we have had on how you can improve efficiencies, cut costs and so on’. That’s building value beyond the sale,” said Read.
The second keynote speaker of the day, sales linguistic expert Steve W Martin, focused on how to create rapport with a customer. “Different people at different levels of the organisation and in different departments care about different things, and the way you communicate with them should reflect that,” he explained.
“Every decision maker has two areas of focus: what they are creating within the organisation, and what they are controlling. Your product or service will solve different needs at different levels. What the CEO and CIO care about for instance, is not the same as what the IT manager cares about. Determine what the individual who you are speaking to is creating and controlling, and speak in their specific language. Don’t talk about what an IT manager cares about to a CIO. You will not hold their attention.”
Martin’s advice is to determine these ‘create’ and ‘control’ factors before a meeting. This not only guides you to speak in the correct ‘language’ for who you are communicating with, but it forces you to mentally put yourself in their shoes, which in turn means you are having the conversation they want to have, instead of reciting your own industry jargon, catch phrases and the technical language of your product or service to them. “The goal of a sales consultant is to build momentum – and to do that you need to be having a conversation.”