4 Tips for Today’s Sales Professional
When I first transitioned from the world of education into the glamorous life of a sales professional twenty(ish) years ago, my role was really one of “information provider.” If a customer was interested in my product/service, the only way they could get to it was to go through me. I held all the knowledge–pricing, specifications, schedules. Customers would come to me because they needed to if they wanted to buy. Sure, I had to be nice to people, answer their questions, and demonstrate value but in all actuality what they were really coming to me for was my expertise. In fact, as a brand spankin’ new sales person I distinctly remember my manager telling me, “No matter what, you will always know more than the person walking in the door.”
Today the role of the sales professional has changed significantly. We are no longer information providers. With the dawn of the www, information is everywhere. A quick trip to GoogleTown will get you everything you have ever wanted to know about products and services in the market. This has created information parity, meaning all parties have access to the same information. Modern day buyers are the most well educated, thoroughly researched and sophisticated shoppers in history!
Everyone has the ability to research products’ features, function, price, and compare alternatives. They can virtually become experts on anything! Before a customer decides to even talk to a sales person, you can be sure that he/she knows a lot about the product they are searching for. Research shows that they need to be 70-80% sold on a specific product or service before they are willing to engage with a sales person at all!
What does this all mean to us? How do we move forward and be the sales professionals our customers need us to be?
1. Ask the right questions. Albert Einstein once said, “If I had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then five minutes solving it.” The modern consumer doesn’t need you to show them another product. They need you to help them problem solve. Don’t even think “solution” until you are confident that you fully understand what your customer’s needs are. Ask questions. More importantly, ask the right questions. Don’t ask, “What are you looking for?” but rather, “What problem can I help you solve?”
2. Lead the Sales Process with Confidence. Make it crystal clear to your client what working with you is going to look like. One of the number one causes for sales to fall through is customer uncertainty (about timeline, process, price, etc.). Walk your customer through the process early in the relationship. Guide them through every step of the decision-making process and offer assistance frequently. You want your clients to feel sure and secure in their decision to do business with you, so remove doubt wherever you can. Consumers won’t do business with professionals they don’t trust. Gain their trust with excellent communication, and authenticity throughout the sales process.
3. Remove Obstacles. There are plenty of things that hold a customer back from committing to a sale whether it be uncertainty, distrust, or price objections. It’s your job to clear the road so you and your client can cross the finish line together. Address every obstacle individually so your customer has nothing holding them back from working with you.
4. Show ’em What You’re Worth! It all boils down to this: The computer age has not made the sales pro obsolete as once forecasted. That’s because even though the internet is an abundant source of information, it can’t provide meaningful, personal, human interactions. In fact, it is expected that by 2020 “customer experience” will replace price and quality as key brand differentiators. It’s more important than ever that we show up and give our customers a truly great experience. In order for us to be successful modern salespeople, we must add value to every interaction and create an exceptional buying experience for our current and potential clients. That is how we are going to sell more and create very happy customers that are thrilled to work with us again and again!
Let’s do this!
Lynne Jensen-Nelson | Founder, Conversion-omics
Lynne is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, sales trainer and business consultant. She has earned numerous honors including BPW-Woman of the Year, NSMC Million Dollar Award, National Sales Leadership Champions Circle, NAHB Platinum Award for Distinguished Sales Leadership, and JD Power and Associates #1 Sales Leader.