What do clients want? Not to be treated like idiots, for one. A good sales person has to know their business. Clients don’t expect to be coerced, bullied, tricked or intimidated into buying. They don’t expect to be treated like an idiot by sales people who just talk at them and flash brochures or product sheets. Relationships do not work effectively if they are forced!
Clients are now after “business people” who can sell.
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Most clients know what they are after even if they don’t know how to articulate it sometimes.
The “market challenger” or “early adopter” clients are open to new ideas and innovations, and while they don’t know what they don’t know, they are often happy to see competent sales people to learn and keep up-to-date with the latest ideas and innovations.
They want to stay ahead of the pack. A key part of our job, as sales people, is to help clients articulate what they need in language they can relate to and understand so they can get what they need.
Today, clients expect to deal with a real professional who knows their own business and how that business is able to serve the client’s business well.
As sales people, we need to listen beyond the obvious product need and get to know how our offering fits in with our clients’ overall business or personal plans. Here are some suggestions on how you can do this:
· Determine the express client needs by asking questions, which gets you understanding their situation for their point of view. An initial question I often use is “what are your key priorities and issues you need to address in the next … months in relation to your company’s ‘sales performance’ (insert your own area of expertise)?”
· Press for more information to identify the business issues underlying the client’s needs.
· Creatively draw on the full resources of your business to see what possible solutions you can offer.
· Where appropriate, introduce clients to other suppliers and potentially valuable support resources that may help them in their business outside of what you can offer.
Clients expect to be “helped” these days. They expect the sales person to have a reasonable degree of business acumen and commercial awareness. You need to be aware of the bigger picture and your place in it. As you well know, the world does not only revolve around your product or service.
You can build your credibility and value as a trusted business partner if you:
· Look to further the interests of your client’s business as well as your own.
· Keep current on developments that affect clients’ business strategies including emerging trends and clients’ competitors.
· Have a long-term perspective on the way you do business with clients.
· Expand the client’s understanding of what a business relationship can be.
· Do not forget your “economic argument”, your ROI (return on investment). Look for ways you can contribute to your clients’ profitability. How will you help them succeed and grow?
As a sales person, make sure you always have a valid business reason to position you in context of your client or prospect’s business. Think in terms of how the client will perceive you and your value to their business.
An excellent barometer for how your clients feel when you are interacting with them is to imagine you are one of them, and you’re being served by “you”. Really put yourself in your clients’ shoes and describe your sales and service approach in as much detail as possible. What would they say about you and your value to them?
“Success” is but an artistic term
And after proper investigation, we as sales people should be able to define what “success” will look like in partnership with the client, and have a planned approach for change.
Remember “success” is but an artistic term until you give it substance. You need to make sure you can link your client’s goals and desires to work with you to tangible actions and outcomes. We are living in an increasingly evidence-based society and you need to be able to link your business offerings to real outcomes.
No fluff and spin!
You need to be able to communicate achievable objectives for the relationship while challenging the creativity of both the client and your organisation.
In short, in at least business-to-business sales, clients are now after “business people” who can sell.
Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to www.barrett.com.au
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