Some things never change — London and Seattle skies are grey, Adele reigns supreme, and England will always have better footballers than the States (you know it’s true).
Business, on the other hand, is in constant flux. Continuously shifting customer expectations bring new challenges. In recent years, companies around the world have rapidly evolved their approach to sales to keep pace with modern buyer demands. When 77% of business buyers feel that technology has significantly changed how companies should interact with them, sales organisations have no choice but to adopt fresh processes, techniques, and technologies — or face irrelevance.
With every new year comes new opportunities. As a seller, if you make one resolution, let it be this: stop selling and start advising. Today’s buyers don’t want a salesperson — they want a trusted partner who uniquely understands them and has their best interest at heart. So, how do you make the shift from generic pitches to personalised conversations? Put the following 8 steps into practice.
Do Your Research
We’ve all talked in circles about something we knew nothing about, usually resulting in a blank stare from our audience. This type of interaction doesn’t fly with buyers. With limited time and a full plate, the last thing prospects want is fluff or even repetitive information. Modern buyers have done their homework — with the widespread availability of information and resources at their fingertips, buyers often complete 70% of the journey before engaging with sales, according to SiriusDecisions. That’s one reason why 74% of buyers choose the rep that was first to add value and perspective.
Sellers, do your research. Know your buyer’s business, challenges, and aspirations. Come to the table ready to listen attentively.
Don’t Sell Alone
There’s truth to the saying “better together” — especially in the world of sales. Tight alignment with your marketing and sales enablement functions will be a game changer. When buyers expect value, content alone is no longer enough. You need both content and guidance on what you need to know, say, and show for every unique selling scenario.
Marketing and enablement teams can prepare you to have the kinds of tailored conversations that not only move deals forward, but build lasting relationships. From creating content that maps to every stage of the buyer’s journey to developing winning sales plays, these teams have the skills and resources to support a stellar customer experience from first touch to close.
Forget Cookie-Cutter Outreach
Sending 500 emails instead of 50 doesn’t improve your odds of getting a lead. In the modern era, quality trumps quantity. New research from Monetate and WBR Research found that 93% of businesses with advanced personalisation strategies increased their revenue last year. Despite the research and results, many reps continue to favour “spray and pray” tactics, largely due to not having the right sales enablement to help personalise outreach at scale.
Appeal to Gatekeepers and Influencers
If you could only talk to Unilever’s Chief HR Officer, she’d undoubtedly see the magic in your performance appraisal software — reaching her will just take running the gauntlet of caller ID, email filters, assistants, and junior employees. Before you reach the person who can sign the dotted line, you’re going to have to clear a number of hurdles, including winning over gatekeepers and influencers.
When you first make contact, determine which type of prospect you’re engaging with and learn how you can best relate. Even if they’re not the check signer, they’ll likely have an influence on the person who is. Gatekeepers and influencers aren’t just checkpoints to be passed – they’re potential allies who can offer valuable insight that may make the difference between a win or loss.
Ask the Right Questions
“There’s no such thing as a stupid question” may have been true in primary school, but not today. Welcome to the premier league, where a single meeting has the potential to cost your company a million-dollar account and send your prospect running into the arms of a competitor.
Asking great sales questions is an art and a science. From uncovering deep customer needs to pinpointing areas where your product can proactively solve problems, questions are the key to unlocking the deep understanding you need to help your buyer. Mastering this skill requires a combination of training, coaching, and practice, so that you can present relevant inquiries at every stage of the journey.
Build a Case with Content
Top sellers know that results come from selling a solution, not pitching a product. They use a combination of rich content and storytelling to paint a picture of what life could look like with the solution in place. Seven regions of the brain are activated when listening to a story, compared to only two regions when listening to data by itself. Bring the power of storytelling with visual content to your engagements to maintain buyers’ attention and connect on an authentic level.
Embrace Artificial Intelligence
No, AI won’t take your job. In fact, it can help you be better at your job. AI-driven capabilities are boosting sellers’ productivity and effectiveness. From performing mundane admin tasks to surfacing content recommendations, AI is transforming the way salespeople work. AI may be more powerful than ever, but it won’t replace human intelligence. The sweet spot lies in using human empathy informed by AI.
Remember, Customers Come First
PwC reported in a recent study that 73% of people in 12 countries believe that customer experience is a critical factor in their purchasing decisions. Pushy one-liners don’t win deals, but genuine relationships do. This means that you keep your customer’s best interests at heart at all times. You may have a quota to crush, but in the long-term your company is better off with a happy customer who purchased the right product at the right time.
London’s skies may not change, but by evolving your sales approach using these eight tips, you can make every customer conversation count in 2020 and beyond. So go forth and converse, knowing that at the end of the day we’re all just people looking for genuine connections.