Friday, April 29, 2011

 

Six customer-centric selling reminders

Whether you hear it or not, your prospective customers are giving you feedback every day. Here are six lessons they're teaching us (and worth the reminder every once in a while to keep ourselves honest).

Your prospects are extremely busy.

They don’t return your phone calls not because they don’t need what you’re selling. They don’t buy right away not because you can’t help them. Their curtness isn’t because they don’t respect you. Just remember how busy your prospects are. You’re an addition to their schedule, not yet a part of it. Respect that position until you’re able to earn a more active seat at the table.

Anything that appears to take focus away from their current work is a distraction.
Even if they see value, you represent something new. Something they’ll need to learn. Something that will be harder, even just initially, than what they already had planned. If you represent change, they know not everyone’s going to like that. Folding you into their life, their processes, their plans, is harder than we (as sellers) give credit to. If you build enough value, you convert distraction into priority.

You are “expensive” until you prove that you’re not.
Even if you don’t require up-front fees, even if you don’t require actual dollars, even if you’re offering a risk-free trial to get started, you take time. Time to learn how it works, time to figure out where it fits, time to get others on board to make a buying decision and see the results. All that work is expensive, especially if the buyer is already under the gun to perform and achieve results based on an existing plan that does not include what you’re selling. On the flip side, if the buyer sees that time and/or cost translating into accelerated revenue, long-term time saved or similar value translations, you’re no longer expensive. You’re necessary.

Your prospects don’t know how to translate what you do into what they do.
The buyer has a certain set of current priorities. If you take the time to understand what those are, you might end up changing how you describe your product or service (and it’s intended benefit/outcome) so that it more directly relates to what your prospect already values. If they see you as a square peg and all they have are round holes, you lose. Even if you know all of your pegs are actually round, until your prospect hears and understands that, you aren’t going to make the sale.

You’re not speaking the company’s language.
This isn’t just value translation. This means specific words. Learn the prospect and buying company’s language. Figure out how they talk about the problem or priority into which you’re selling. Your own language, and that of your own company, is not important if it doesn’t help your prospect contextualize and communicate your value inside the organization, to others who speak the same language.

Put yourself in their shoes – what’s really important?
Close your eyes. You are now the buyer. You’re driving into work. What are you worried about? What makes you anxious? What meetings are you dreading? What priorities are on your mind all day, and likely even when you go home at night? The answer to these questions is probably not what you’re selling (at least not directly). The answer to these questions is bigger than that. But if what you have helps solve one of those problems, you’ve got a chance. Just know what that is, how to describe it, and how to help your buyer understand the explicit path and outcome of moving forward. Help them sleep at night.

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