The rise of the service economy has created a dramatic shift in the way sales people must approach their buying market. No longer can a sales person rely on a tangible product that the customer can interact with and asses prior to making a decision on whether to buy or not. As sales people, we must create a meaningful connection between the buyer and ourselves to educate, inspire and ultimately influence the buyer’s final decision.
The shift in buyer behaviour over the past few years actually works to our advantage in this respect. Most business will decide to buy based on a challenge and not a desire. For example, “I would really like a new website, let’s go to market to engage with someone that can design us one” is not reality. Reality is more along the lines of “The people I am trying to sell to are not gaining any further insight into what we do when they visit our existing site, how do we fix this”.
From the sales persons perspective, the conversation with a prospective buyer needs to shift to reflect this. A detailed knowledge of your offering is still absolutely vital; however, we need to change how and when we use this knowledge. When selling a service, the first interaction between a sales person and a prospect should not be the sales person listing the features, benefits and USPs of their offering but a consultation (it helps to pretend that you are a doctor talking to a patient) to uncover the buyer’s challenges, goals and the consequences of not meeting these goals or resolving these challenges.
By building a detailed understanding of goals, challenges and consequences the sales person achieves two things. Firstly, the relationship between the sales person and prospect will dramatically change from being adversarial, “I am dealing with a salesman who only cares about the deal”, to a collaborative one “This person has made a lot of effort to understand why I need this service and I feel that I have help to overcome my challenges”. Secondly, the sales person has knowledge of what aspects of their service are best aligned to their prospect and can use that understanding to tailor further interactions for a more relevant and personable sales process.
In short, by following the above method everyone wins. The sales person builds stronger rapport, has a more relevant conversation around their services and doesn’t waste time selling to people that don’t have a need for their service. The prospect feels that they have bought a service relevant to their challenges and goals, feel that they have someone “on their side” who is willing to help them and will have greater confidence in the solution as it feels that it has been tailored to meet their specific needs.
Above I mentioned that when selling a service, the sales person should establish the consequences of the prospect not achieving their goals or resolving their challenges and this forms a very important part of the sales process. I also mentioned above that people buy because they have a need, if people have aspirations (goals) or problems (challenges) but addressing them does not hold some form of consequence, why would they bother resolve them? Uncovering consequences when qualifying a prospect this is a very simple question of asking “what happens if you achieve (insert goal)” or “what happens if you don’t achieve (insert challenge)”. This will now let you understand the reason for the prospect going to market on a fundamental level and frame the advantages of your product in terms of the consequences the buyer faces which will create a compelling reason within the prospect to buy your service.
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