My research shows that the average salesperson talks over 81% of the time in a selling situation.
Not only is that approach ineffective, it’s losing you sales. You can close more sales, simply by talking less. Here are seven ways to do it:
1. Be distinct from the competition.
When prospects perceive you as similar to other salespeople, you are in trouble. As a result, your goal is to be perceived as totally distinct from the competition. The next time a prospect asks you why he should do business with you, you should reply, “I’m not sure that you should. Would it be okay if I asked you a few questions to better understand your situation?”
This approach is different, more credible, and immediately separates you from other salespeople.
2. Understand your prospect’s challenges.
Most salespeople spend their time trying to persuade prospects rather than taking the time to understand the problem that the prospect is facing. Remember: Prospects are looking to solve certain challenges; they are not looking to be sold. Take the time to learn about their key problems first.
3. Understand their goals.
When a prospect solves his challenges, he can then achieve his goals. Once you’ve fully understood the prospect’s challenges, it’s time to understand what he’s looking to accomplish. Whether you sell to consumers or businesses, all prospects are looking to accomplish specific goals with your product or service. Understand what those goals are.
4. Develop a workable budget.
Many salespeople simply quote a price to their prospect without ever having a good conversation about money conversation. This approach is costing you thousands – maybe even millions – of dollars in lost sales.
From now on, help prospective customers develop a budget to solve their challenges and accomplish their goals. It doesn’t have to be an exact number. A range will do. This will help you determine whether someone is qualified for your service or product before you present your solution.
5. Understand their decision-making process.
Many entrepreneurs and sales people feel stuck when potential customers tell them they need to “run it by a committee” before committing to anything. In most cases, the salespeople had no idea that a committee was even involved in making the decision. Well, whose fault is that? Salespeople rarely ask what the prospect’s decision making process is – but they should. Here are two examples of good questions to ask: “Who else is involved in this decision?” and “How do you typically make decisions like this?”
6. Make sure they’re committed to their goals.
Before you get to a presentation of your product or service, you want to be sure that the prospect is committed to solving her challenges and achieving her goals. If they aren’t, you’re wasting your time by even presenting a solution.
Your time will be better spent with other prospects who are committed to solving their challenges and achieving their goals. Before you present your solution, ask, “How committed are you to actually solving these challenges right now?”
7. Keep it short.
Most salespeople spend most of their sales meetings presenting. That’s why they’re doing all of the talking in the first place. Rather than spending most of your time presenting, spend the majority of your time doing steps one through six.
Get to really understand the prospect’s situation and decide whether he’s invested in finding a solution. Then give a presentation based on solving his challenges and achieving his goals. Don’t present anything else. The prospect doesn’t care about every single feature and benefit of your product or service. He only cares about accomplishing his goals. So keep it short.
Putting all of these ideas into practice requires that you actually talk less. A great salesperson will talk no more than 20% of the time in a selling situation. Close your mouth a little more and you might just find you’ll close many more deals as a result.
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Find More Customers Today! This is What You Need to Know
Want To Become A Supplier To A Big Company? Consider This First
A giant customer can be highly profitable or cost you your business. Have you considered all the angles?
“How do I get into the big corporates or Government?” Business owners visualise huge sales and profits by becoming a supplier to a giant, and that is often the case. For a big organisation with billions to spend, a trivial expenditure to them may be a large fortune to you. Do not let the number of zeros dazzle you, riches are not guaranteed; many entrepreneurs have suffered losses or businesses collapse from such dealings.
You must understand the motivations of managers of large organisations, and the risks they face. They are KPI-driven and risk serious damage to their careers if something goes badly wrong. Compared to these issues, your profitability, work hours and ego are minor considerations. You may believe that you only have to perform in terms of your agreement, but in reality, you need to make your contacts look good. Aim for a zero fail rate; deliveries that are late, faulty or incorrect may cause a disproportionate explosion because that means your contact has let someone down. If you are smart, you can help your contacts get a reputation for superior internal service.
Understand the risks that big customers pose to your business
There are risks in any unequal buyer/seller relationship. The biggest risk is if the giant stops buying. Large customers can be extremely demanding; they see you as an extension of their business and can be intolerant of your need to service other customers. Many small suppliers will be familiar with a peremptory summons to an immediate meeting and occasional rudeness. A supply contract inevitably favours the big guy, and this means pricing and other terms of trade are vital. You must protect your ability to make a reasonable margin even if circumstances like inflation, exchange rates or sector wage agreements change.
Large organisations care about meeting their budgets, not about your profitability, and many suppliers have failed because they were bound to supply goods at an unsustainable price. Managers move around, and if your champion is promoted, the replacement manager may prefer their favourite suppliers, so out you go. Broaden your range of contacts in the organisation to avoid this risk. Large organisations are huge bureaucracies; decisions may take time and payments may be delayed, especially if your paperwork is not perfect.
There are opportunities — but evaluate them carefully
The major opportunity is significant growth. They will buy if you supply a product or service that suits their needs and budget at service levels that make the managers look good. It is entirely possible to make your company almost indispensable by solving problems and offering them innovative new ways of exceeding their KPIs at reduced cost. There are opportunities to supply other parts of the giant, as well as their supply chains. Be careful with growth. Your primary contact will be used to your full attention and if he or she senses that this is no longer happening because you have grown, they can seek alternative suppliers. Never let growth reduce your customer service level.
A very large and prestigious customer gives your company credibility, allows you to attract the brightest staff, makes selling to other giants easier and gives you funds to develop new markets and new products.
Is it worth it?
Is it worth the big money? Yes, if you can manage the risks, chief of which is becoming too dependent on one customer. However, dealing with the big gorillas is not the same as having a more balanced supplier/buyer relationship. It works if you use your ability to be nimble and flexible to solve their problems. It helps if you are innovative and can use your creativity to respond rapidly in ways that big corporations cannot. It works if you can give very personal service, even if that means you, the owner, are the primary interface. By doing these things you can become an indispensable cog in a huge machine.
You need a champion in your client’s organisation, but ensure you have other contacts too. What happens if they leave or are promoted? Is your contract safe?
Accurately Predict Future Sales With These Two Things
Being able to predict your sales for next month and those to come, is a result of a combination of two things.
As someone responsible for sales in a growing business, you would love to be able to predict your sales accurately, month after month – but this can be a difficult process. Fortunately, it’s not impossible. With some initial effort and careful monitoring, you can predict whether the team will have positive sales results in the future, and where you can see trouble looming, you can take advance action to avoid problems.
Being able to predict your sales for next month and those to come, is a result of a combination of two things:
1. Developing a sales process
As ‘boring” as it might sound for many entrepreneurs, it is extremely useful to understand the benefits of working to a process in business. This applies to any part of the business, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, is very applicable to sales.
Think about it this way:
- If you do the same task a different way every time, you can expect a different outcome every time. It becomes difficult to predict whether the outcome will be good or bad.
- But if you do the same task the same way every time, the outcome becomes very predictable, and you’ve laid a platform for systematic improvement. By making one small tweak to how you do the task, you can see if you get a better, or a worse, outcome. You can then keep all the tweaks that improve your outcome and drop the tweaks that make it worse.
2. Developing sales systems
A superior quality sales management capability necessitates that you have a Sales System on a best of breed technology platform, to help manage the sales function in the business.
A good sales system helps you capture your sales process. Good sales management practices drive home the discipline needed to implement the sales process, and in turn, predict sales results.
Take the first step in your journey towards accurately predicting sales by developing a sound sales process.
Next in this series: HOW TO DEVELOP A SALES PROCESS THAT WORKS LIKE A CHARM
Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption
You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?
PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.
It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should. But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.
Related: Reimagine The Use Of Technology
In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table. To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
- Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
- Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.
Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession? The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.
In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities. They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.
This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.
Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.
So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer. Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.
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