By Alan Heaton
“Perspectives with Alan”
Something I have learned from working with and observing numerous top performing sales people is that if you want to stand out from your competition, you have to have a more relevant conversation providing value and discovering their needs. Turn your conversations with prospective clients into dialogue that will resonate and they will remember.
The next time you are in a sales situation as the buyer, pay attention to how the sales person starts the conversation. Do they start off with something like “I am the V.P. of Sales at my company and I have been in the industry for 17 years. Our firm is a full service provider for our line of products. Now, I would like to hear more about your goals and what you are looking to achieve.” By sharing their years of experience and title they assume they will gain the credibility necessary for you to be open to their onslaught of questions. The reality though is often a bit different.
There is an expectation that you have experience, that you are smart and that your company offers multiple products and services. This isn’t the factor that is going to win the opportunity nor is it as impressive as we like to think. Experience is simply the ticket that gets you a seat at the table.
The responsibility of the sales person in any sales interaction is to create value and justify the use of their prospective clients time. Clients of today want to be educated. They want perspective and insights that help them see things differently. This means you must be prepared to share insight and education on issues that are relevant to them, their industry, and/or their company. These may be issues they have but didn’t recognize the same way you do or they may be issues they know they have but do not know how to solve. When you are prepared and do this well, you may hear a response from your prospective client such as “I hadn’t thought about it that way” or “you’re right, I have that problem but didn’t know I could solve it”. Think about it in terms of finishing the following:
• Here is something happening in your market that we see shaping the next several years…
• Here is an issue we have helped others in a similar role as yours address…
• Here are a couple of areas that are shaping our industry that you should consider when making your buying decision…
Lastly, be prepared to share a story that will help your prospective customer understand how you have worked with someone in a similar situation. To do this effectively, describe the issue they had, the resolution employed and the benefit to the individual and organization as a result of the solution you provided. (stay tuned to an upcoming blog post for an example)