The following sales strategies are usually underestimated, overlooked or ignored. In some cases, they are very unpopular in a world full of transactions, immediate gratification and technologies that promise efficiency, a false promise. These four strategies are also combat-tested, that is, they have passed the test and created a competitive advantage.
When you sell, you try to create a preference to work with you and your team, to the exclusion of your competitors. What I mean when I write about creating value, is your approach, your strategy and your ability to consult.
Shaping the customer's view
Unfortunately, the sales profession is falling behind when it comes to giving the customer an image of his problem and possible solutions. Those who struggle remain convinced that they will win important complex B2B sales based on their company's reputation and solution. While these things may offer a slight advantage, they do nothing to help the potential customer understand his problem, what exactly he should do about it, or how it should evolve.
You define the main question asked by the client by providing a context that modifies the lens through which he perceives his problem, challenge or possibility (see Eat their lunch, chapter 2). Can you help them make sense of their world and their business? Can you help them understand what their choices are and why they should choose one course of action over another? Win customers away from your competitors. Check-out Eat their lunch
We resist doing difficult things.
Have a physical presence
Most salespeople – and the sales organizations they work for – are not interested in the presentation strategy. The desire to be effective over time, the change in our communication preferences and our willingness to make transactions (Amazon.com) led commercials to falsely believe that they could have the sales conversation by email.
Just when I write these words, a salesman I know has a scheduled meeting with a potential customer in his home office. She meets them on vacation. Nobody else competing for this business will have visited the customer in his home office. What do you think are his chances of winning?
Having a physical presence has a considerable competitive advantage. You show that you care enough to come and learn more about the client and their needs. You meet the people who make the decision and you understand what they expect from you. Even more, they can see you writing what they say, an indication that you will try to give them what they want.
This approach is the opposite of what we could describe as the theory of sales by correspondents.
This approach is underestimated, mainly because there is little desire to have a physical presence. Your prospective client will spend time with a few salespeople or sales organizations. Unless you participate in a request for proposal and you only have one hour to sell (strategy here), you are competing to save time.
My friends at Gartner shared with me that buyers spend about 18% of their time shopping with sellers. In general, each sales organization earns about 6% of its time. The more time you have, the more time you have to sell effectively and create a preference for working with you.
In all, you want an asymmetrical benefit. If you can double the time you spend with the customer, you create a competitive advantage. You can also limit the time they have for your competitors. The strategy here is very much like managing the clock in a football match; if i have control of the ball, i can keep you in defense and stop you from scoring.
Define or revise the process
Who controls the process wins. My second book, The Lost Art of Closing, involves controlling the process and ensuring that the client of your dream takes and respects the commitments needed to make a good decision. The book is practical and tactical, even if the word "close" scares people into believing it is an old school, approaching Glengarry Glenn Ross (it's actually quite the opposite) . No more arrogant sales tactics. The lost art of the fence shows you how to proactively manage your customer and close your sales.
When you sell, you help your potential client achieve better results. Most of the time, they do not know what to do or why they need to do it. So, they ignore some of the commitments. They are trying to speed up the process by holding a single meeting and asking for a proposal, even if they have to hold further discussions and make decisions.
The person who can define the process – or revise it – creates a competitive advantage. If your competitors do not discuss the same way and rely on a model that suggests following their example, you create a gap between their experience with you and their experience with your competitors.
Execution of the 4 strategies
These strategies are unlikely to conflict with your sales process. They will not reduce the efficiency of your sales methods either. You will not hear complaints from your sales manager (with the execution of a larger expense report of trips to meet customers), and your dream clients will not blame you for spending time with them or help them solve their problems.
The challenge of these strategies is to change your behaviors and get the job done.
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