Understanding your customers – Telling isn’t selling

Julie Kidman

Guest post from Julie Kidman, MindStep.co.nz


One of the keys to sales success in today’s information over-loaded marketplace is relevancy.

People are generally too busy getting on with their lives and their businesses to be bothered listening to or reading any sales pitch, unless it matters. The good news is people are so busy that a salesperson who doesn’t bore the customer with inconsequential gabber, but helps solve problems, improve productivity, cut costs etc. may be rewarded with a commitment from the customer to change, perhaps securing uncontested new business.

So if you are in sales; a salesperson, responsible for business development or an owner operator who has to win business, your role is to be informed, be knowledgeable and engage in relevant conversations which reveal the importance of your offer to prospective customers; importance being a subjective assessment with the customers’ perspective the only valid assessment.

How do you engage in a conversation that the customer thinks is important?

And more importantly, a conversation that prompts a customer to engage or make a commitment?

It’s all in the preparation, doing the work before the sales conversation. You need to bring to the table expertise; the sifting of data into relevant useful information, understanding and recommendations. A successful salesperson will intimately understand their offer, what it enables, how it will benefit prospective customers, how it differs from the status quo or competitor offers. They will be knowledgeable about the market and industry they operate in, trends, future predictions, and alternative solutions, the wider social, economic and political context. They will bring to the table a high level of business acumen and most importantly they will have researched their customers business. Before the conversation the successful salesperson will have theorised about how they might help, identified any potential problems they can solve, determined possible opportunities to enhance the customers’ business.

Now armed with all of the aforementioned preparation the successful salesperson will engage in a genuine conversation. Listening and sharing relevant elements of their offer to help the prospective customer understand how they can help, engaging the customer in a conversation that matters.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure relevancy:

  1. Do your research; into your offer, the alternatives, your industry, the market, the wider political, social and economic context, your prospective customer, and their customers.
  2. Anticipate the potential problems you solve (or opportunities you create) and determine how you might help before approaching a prospective customer.
  3. Engage with those you think you can help. Design questions that help reveal to the prospective customer the problems or opportunities you think you could assist with.
  4. Offer segments of your solution during the sales conversation in a way that allows the perspective customer to process your suggestions; ask the customer to identify relevancy and importance.
  5. Confirm relevancy and suggest the next logical step in the process.

Remember – “Telling isn’t selling”

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