By Ken Thoreson, president, Acumen Management Group
During a recent new client strategy meeting and a session where I had a chance to interview their entire sales team I came away with a break through idea regarding their sales efforts. I think it is pertinent to almost every past client and all future clients. I just had to share it with my many readers.
First let me say this; as I work with sales organizations on their sales management challenges, one of them being sales team development, a continual issue always appears, that being the in ability of the sales people to ask excellent discovery questions. Next, they fail to fully understand how or what the impact of their solution will have on their prospects business. Most salespeople today sell their product/solution, they may touch on a few limited benefits (FAB = feature/advantage/benefit selling), adapt to solution based selling, but the vast majority cannot “connect the dots” of what they hear and what people want. However, what they are missing is what I now term: Business Guidance.
Second, many salespeople have been trained to discover the “pains” that a prospect is experiencing. When I hear salespeople asking,“What keeps you up at night?” or “What are the business pains you are trying solve?” I almost cringe with embarrassment. The question I ask to wake up salespeople is: “How many other salespeople have asked those same questions to your prospects?” In other words, if salespeople today are using the same sales techniques that they were trained on 5 or even 10 years ago, they are on automatic pilot and therefore not executing professionally and certainly not separating themselves from the competition during the sales process. Salespeople today need a better “ultimate strategy.”
It must be recognized that in today’s world, our prospects have access to the Internet; they are more educated on our products or competitive products/solutions than ever before and more aware of sales techniques or sales training programs. So what is a salesperson to do?
I believe the next level of sales professionalism must be carried forward to what I have labeled delivering “Business Guidance Value” (BGV). All the past sales training programs somewhat are built on this new level of sales process; however, they all need to be updated because of technology, prospect environments, and the commodization of the marketplace.
Delivering BGV means that, yes, salespeople must understand their products/solutions and, yes, they understand how their products/solutions are used by a client and, yes, what benefits their products/solutions bring, and, yes, they must understand the nuances of traditional sales strategies, including effective sales discovery, however, they must now take it to the next level. What does that involve?
The salesperson must now take all of the accumulated knowledge they have, and now relate to the prospect at their business level and beyond. The salesperson must now speak to “how the benefits” of the solution will impact the prospect’s business PLUS how the prospect will leverage those benefits to gain a competitive advantage, drive increased levels of sales, improve operational efficiency, impact customer responsiveness, or improve market share. This becomes the ultimate strategy that will separate the business guidance salesperson from the pack.
The future of professional sales is relating how your product/solution not only saves someone money, time, and/or resources, but what or how those savings should be utilized to impact the performance of the prospect’s business. This means that if you have determined your product/solution can save the client $50,000 a year, then your recommendation must include how or where the client will invest that savings over the next 3 years of $150,000. Specifically, should they invest it in marketing, product development, newer technology or even new vehicles for their service people? The salesperson must make the Business Guidance recommendation. The key factor to remember is that the $50,000 a year savings would not necessarily be invested in additional products/services from your firm, but the salesperson must show the client how their business can be directly impacted by the savings from YOUR solution.
This will require extensive sales training programs that will require case study review, increased levels of discovery role playing, and BGV presentations.
And your choice is? Take action and become the Business Guidance leader in your market or keep up the battle using the same tools and concepts of your competitors.
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 14 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world. Thoreson provides keynotes, consulting services, and products designed to improve business. His latest book is “Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams.” Email: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com, and visit his blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com.