Saturday, July 11, 2009

 

Five tips for better customer-centric selling

When you're selling, your first challenge is always to connect with the prospect - build rapport and a basis for why they should care about you and what you have to offer. But too often, selling companies approach this conversation in a seller-centric way - fronting with what the company has to sell vs. what the customer needs.

Turning this around to focus more on customer-centric sales - especially at the front of the process - can be relatively easy. Below are five initial ways to pivot quickly to a customer-centric selling approach.

· Use "you" instead of "I": Many sales people and marketers default their writing and speaking to the first-person, and focus their messages on what you (the seller) have and want. The next time you write a call script or sales letter, use "you" at least twice as often as you use "I". Make statements that address the customer and their situation & needs directly. It makes for a far more customer-centric approach that will attract and engage your readers more effectively.

· Treat the first sales call like an interview: Even if you've already qualified the prospect, your first call should still be about them. Even if you only have a few minutes in person or on the phone, ask smart questions to not only better understand the prospect's situation, but also get them to directly admit the challenges and pain currently faced by life without your solution. In your first call, ask a handful of smart questions and spend at least 75% of the time listening. With the right questions, many prospects will walk right into the sale.

· Align yourself with existing customer priorities: Too many sales professionals waste hours of time trying to sell something their prospects don't need. And even if they would benefit from it, you must align your solution with an existing problem or initiative in the organization. Your prospects are too busy to start juggling yet another priority not already on their plate. But by aligning your solution with something they're already trying to address and solve, you have a much better chance of being heard.

· Respect their time: Assume your customers are at least as busy as you are. Just because they're interested in what you have doesn’t mean they have an hour to hear you talk about it. Be brief, ask up front each time if they have a few minutes, and think of ways to condense your information into less. Send less but more important collateral to review. Condense the hour-long Webinar to a 1-2 page executive summary. Find ways to get information to your prospects without taking up much time. They'll appreciate you for it.

· Let your current customers sell for you: Case studies and success stories should be your most prominent and effective selling tool. Help your prospects envision what success with your product looks like a few days, weeks or months after they've bought it. Put those customer success stories in a variety of format - print, audio, video, Web - and make it easy for prospects at various stages of the sales process to engage with them. Even if you're the best salesperson at the company, your customers have more credibility and will sell better than you. Get them in front of your prospects more often.


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