Are You a Dinosaur When It Comes to Sales?

 

Chances are that when it comes to selling the products or services in your business, you are using pre-historic sales practices.

The facts are that even in the modern day, many companies, large or small, and that also includes the self-employed, are approaching the selling process without understanding that customers today are well aware of the pre-historic sales-person.

If you are not using the techniques outlined below then you may indeed be a Brontosaurus or Tyrannosaurus when it comes to sales.

So when I ran across this article written by Sona Jepsen, I felt that it had a lot to offer so here are some of the key points made in the article.

To read the full article, go to: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286806

Forget Your Product: Start Selling 'Solutions' Instead

Transforming your team’s approach to sales requires a shift from just pushing products to creating genuine connections with people. And those genuine connections don't include fraud and mistrust.

Many companies have archaic systems and compensation strategies in place that drive sales teams to act in ways that aren’t in their customers’ best interest.

Sales don’t happen in a silo. All departments -- from marketing to research and development to customer service -- have to work with sales to create true value for customers.

And that's a message that has to be spread, because the way the world does business today is changing at a rapid pace, and buyers’ expectations are changing right along with it. In turn, ill-equipped companies tend to respond to these increased pressures by doubling down on old practices and hoping for the best.

But that old way of operating is not sustainable. To achieve the aggressive sales growth that many companies require, sales departments need to stop trying to sell products and start selling solutions.

The difference a solution can make

At first, the difference between selling a product and selling a solution may not be apparent -- after all, aren’t most products created to solve problems?

But most products are designed as one-size-fits-all solutions. Rather than working to fit each individual customer’s needs, products are usually made to be “good enough” for the widest audience. Solutions, however, combine products and services. They’re designed to help the customer every step of the way, ensuring that each customer’s unique problems are solved by the journey’s end.

Selling a solution requires that companies fundamentally change how they do business: Instead of pushing products, they must create genuine connections with other people. The solution-selling methodology requires lasting relationships with clients in which the goal is always to find new ways to help.

Solution selling in action

Here are four steps that will help smooth out that transition, turning a company stuck in the past into one ready for the future.

1. Prepare and qualify.

Treat sales like customer service. This means anticipating customers’ needs and having a greater understanding of their issues and challenges than they do, themselves.

Make sure that every lead coming from marketing is properly qualified. That way, sales teams can do their due diligence and remain experts for every customer, while early-stage leads will remain with the marketing department until they’re truly sales-ready.

2. Offer the buyer new ideas and perspectives.

A pervasive myth in sales is that the more knowledgeable clients are, the more likely they are to shop around and find an alternative. In actuality, improving customer knowledge has the inverse effect, fostering trust in a company and its products.

By assuming a teaching role, the "solution representative" becomes a trusted partner in a collaborative process. I work with a sales rep who exemplifies this mantra, helping customers recognize their pain points, anticipating and responding to potential problems, and aiding the entire process of implementing our solution. This enables the rep to offer a new perspective -- and can lead to more business from thankful customers.

3. Shatter archaic structures in every department.

The solution-selling methodology isn’t just for the sales team; it’s a prescription for the whole company. As such, any silos or archaic compensation strategies that impede solution selling should be rendered obsolete.

Leaders must be open to critically evaluating everything about their companies, including command structure and culture.

Fruitful solution-development relies on open communication and broad inquiries. If there’s evidence that the flow of information is being impeded, do whatever you need to in order to open those channels.

4. Create a sales liaison role.

Sales success hinges on marketing’s ability to generate enough qualified leads. For this to happen, marketing needs to be clear about the sales team’s needs, such as its communication preferences and demographics. The two departments should also engage in a free exchange of best practices.

A sales liaison -- one who works within the marketing division but can relate to both -- is an essential part of ensuring that this understanding occurs. This employee is the key to relaying the necessary sales information that will enable the marketing team to create initiatives that advance solution-selling goals.

Embracing a customer-focused ideology is more than just good PR. It’s the path forward for every company wishing to embrace today’s disruptive world. The modern customer is looking for tailor-made solutions, and it’s about time startups took that to heart.

End of article

-----

My commentary

Well it is no wonder that this article has been shared so many times as it has a plethora of wonderful 2017 sales tactics that you can still use whether you are an owner/operator or independent contractor or part of a larger sales operation.

Selling can be as complicated as computer coding when you start breaking it down however for this article I want to focus on one basic component that Sona touches on which is all about solution selling.

She even suggests a name change from sales representative to solution representative. I like that.

I have had the pleasure of knowing some of the world’s finest sales people, some who sell products that are valued in the thousands and some who's products are listed in the millions. Regardless of the value they are successful because they definitely sell solutions.

Right from the start they ask target questions designed to flush out the real truth from the customer/client.

Those questions can be short such as “what are your concerns”, or “what do you want the product to do for you.”

Once you begin to unlock the truth from the client you can then begin the process of solution selling.

Many people who are selling, lose thousands of dollars in commission or profit per sale because they think that price is everything and believe that customers only want low price. That is such a false concept.

You will find that once you solve their needs with the solutions provided by your product or service, that price is just an afterthought.

Summary

In summary, let’s recap the points that Sona has covered here.

  • Many companies have archaic systems and compensation strategies in place that drive sales teams to act in ways that aren’t in their customers’ best interest.
  • Selling a solution requires that companies fundamentally change how they do business: Instead of pushing products, they must create genuine connections with other people. The solution-selling methodology requires lasting relationships with clients in which the goal is always to find new ways to help.
  • A pervasive myth in sales is that the more knowledgeable clients are, the more likely they are to shop around and find an alternative. In actuality, improving customer knowledge has the  inverse effect, fostering trust in a company and its products.
  • The solution-selling methodology isn’t just for the sales team; it’s a prescription for the whole company
  • Embracing a customer-focused ideology is more than just good PR. It’s the path forward for every company wishing to embrace today’s disruptive world. The modern customer is looking for tailor-made solutions, and it’s about time startups took that to heart.

Come out of the pre-historic age of selling and embrace SOLUTION SELLING!!

Bud Chapplain

 

Note: The video presentation contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions: https://link.attribute.to/cc/416409