Selling can certainly seem to be little more than a series of starts and stops. You start pursuing a prospect and hope to stop that pursuit with a closed deal. Start at Point A, stop at Point Z. In between, of course, there are other starts and stops as you apply your sales process throughout your pipeline. From the initial contact through all subsequent prospect interactions, you have one goal: close the deal. And THAT is the one thing keeping you from actually closing more deals! Let’s take a look at how to turn that “Start/Stop” mechanism into a sales-making machine that actually leads prospects to want to buy from you before you even ask them for their business:
Stop Focusing on You; Start Focusing on the Customer
It is typical to think about selling as a personal conquest. You need to make the right moves so you can be in position to convince the customer to buy from you so you can make quota and keep your job. The problem with this mindset is that customers know when they are being “sold” something simply as a way to help you reach your goals. And when the customer knows this, the customer resists. Defenses go up. Objections surface. Appointments get cancelled, phones go unanswered, another salesperson gets the sale. And you start again.
But if, instead, your actions in the selling process are customer-centric and focused on helping customers get what they want in a way that cures their “pain” and provides undeniable value, you will have a greater chance of not only closing the deal, but getting the customer to ask to buy from you!
Stop Selling; Start Caring
Of course, a customer-focused approach might just require you to unlearn sales practices that once seemed tried and true. And while most salespeople will claim to care about customer needs, this claim is all too often merely a ploy to get the customer to hear about the features and benefits of what you are selling regardless of whether those features and benefits truly solve a problem for the prospect.
But if you truly care about what the customer wants and needs – and if you truly care about curing their pain, even if it means walking away because you can’t provide a solution – you will save time, build trust-based relationships, generate referrals, and yes, close more deals.
Stop Talking; Start Listening
How do you demonstrate that you care? The easiest and most essential way is to start listening. Really listening. Actively listening. Listening with engagement and empathy.
In a recent article, we mentioned that it is time for a fresh approach to selling. It’s time, we said, for salespeople to stop pitching and pestering and start listening and problem solving. We noted that the true objective of a pitch-free conversation is to discover – collaboratively – whether it makes sense to continue to discuss needs and solutions. To do that, you need to ask questions – the kinds of questions that will help you uncover the root of the prospect’s “pain”. Then, and only then, should you offer a solution if you truly have a solution to their problem. If not, say so. It’s better to make a sale that is a real solution than to sell a customer something they don’t need and won’t be satisfied with.
In fact, by engaging with the client in a dialogue where listening and learning are the norm, you will lead the prospect to a self-discovery about their true priorities while positioning yourself as a trusted ally in reaching their goals.
Stop Overcoming Objections; Start Solving and Demonstrating Value
Don’t fool yourself – the prospect understands how a sales pitch typically works and they know their role: be cordial (at least in the beginning); provide basic information about themselves, the company and their problem; listen to your pitch; and then object, object, object, because you are trying to sell them what you want them to buy. But with empathetic and engaged listening, you can stop working so hard to overcome their objections, and instead, start crafting solutions that meet their needs. When you take this approach, it will disarm the prospect, because you are now acting differently than 90% of all salespeople. Their defenses will come down, a real conversation will happen, and trust will begin to form.
Remember this: closing the deal is an impure primary motivation; providing a true solution, on the other hand, is a pure motivation. Zig Ziglar famously said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” That means that to make the sale, close the deal and begin a customer relationship, you need to be recognized as a trusted provider of what the prospect truly wants and needs.
But it often takes more than merely spotlighting an alignment of your solution with the customer’s needs. It also takes a rock-solid demonstration of value. Jeffrey Gitomer has said that “the buying decision is made emotionally, and justified rationally.” After you’ve gained emotional trust you will need to appeal to the customer in rational terms. That means demonstrating return on investment. That means showing multiple, tangible, dollars-and-cents benefits, in such a compelling way that the prospect would consider it foolish to not do business with you.
Classic styles of selling, with an emphasis on closing the deal, have become ineffective and obsolete. Today, you and your sales team can achieve greater results and make more sales by focusing far less on closing the deal and far more on providing real solutions. And by demonstrating extraordinary value, you can lead the prospect to ask, “What’s next? When can we start?”
At Sales Xceleration, our licensed Advisors can help you establish effective modern sales strategies and processes designed to improve your closing rates and boost your bottom line. To learn more, contact us today at 844.874.7253.
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