Transforming How You Sell: No More Product Pushing
Traditionally the sales professional has been viewed with cynicism based on the perception of self-serving salespeople who are overeager to convince customers to buy the product(s) they are selling.
This view is based on a long-standing stereotype of salespeople who speak more than they listen, assume they know what a customer wants or should want, and are hyper-focused on convincing customers to buy from them.
To make matters worse, some so-called “product pushers” have developed sales techniques to further their goal of “closing the sale.” This includes the use of flattery to create a mental image that is hard to resist for buyers, e.g., “just think what your friends will think when they see you.…”
Another favorite tactic is the use of leading statements that make it challenging for buyers with agreeable personalities to say “no,” e.g., “we can all agree that people view you differently when …”
While these tactics may lead to “closing a sale,” they are highly manipulative and rarely work in business-to-business sales.
The encouraging news is that sales organizations are “en masse” trying to shed this stereotype and instead develop highly consultative sales professionals who present solutions that are driven by and align with their customer needs.
In addition to providing a better, more productive buying experience for customers, it also addresses the shift companies are making from selling products to delivering solutions (e.g., solutions that include product, services, training…).
To make this transition, it is essential that sales professionals rethink how they view their sales process. For “product pushers,” the heart of the sales process consists of a “sales pitch” designed to persuade the customer to buy their product.
For sales professionals, the emphasis is shifted to the customers’ buying process. As such, the sales professional needs to align their sales process with the customer's buying process to help the customer express their needs and priorities, evaluate solutions, and make informed buying decisions.
While this may seem straightforward, aligning how you sell with how your customers make purchase decisions requires a customer-first mindset and the development of comprehensive selling skills. As a starting point, here are a few critical points for sales professionals to think about as they engage with customers:
- Research individual you are meeting with and company
- Identify other key stakeholders and decision-makers
- Develop questions that will help the customer articulate and expand on their priorities
- Engage customer through open-ended questions
- Actively listen and ask clarifying questions
- Paraphrase needs to confirm understanding
- Align your solution(s) with the customer’s business needs and priorities
- Expand on any ancillary benefits you, your solution, or company provides
- Professionally acknowledge and address any questions or concerns
While the development of skills to improve how you sell and engage with customers takes time and dedication, the result is a much more rewarding experience. Sales professionals feel better about themselves (trusted advisor), customers are engaged throughout the process (focus is on the customer’s needs), and both parties feel confident the solution will address the customer’s priorities.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is a Managing Director at the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications, including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.