The best way to sell is through consultative sales because the best way to capture people’s attention is to help them solve their problems, give them solutions, and most of all, be valuable to them. The mistake that most people make is to blast off about how good their product is without taking into consideration what the customer thinks about it (if they even care). What the customer does care about is their business, challenges, and how to solve them. What a good salesperson has to do is find out what those issues are and then explain how their products can solve those problems.
It all boils down to this: When the customer hears that you are in the lobby waiting to see them, they should be happy to see you. If you can get this reputation with your customers, you will do very well. On the other hand, if the customer hears you are in the lobby and tries to do everything possible to avoid seeing you, you know that they feel you aren’t bringing solutions nor value.
So, how do we bring value to our customers? It’s easy! Be more interested in what their needs are than what you want them to buy. You have to be able to understand how their business works and what they need from a good supplier, and then find ways to meet or exceed those needs. The buyer is always looking for ways to make their life easier, and they are looking for suppliers to provide these solutions. As a salesperson, you are in the business of selling solutions, not creating problems.
Here are five ways to be your customers’ expert consultant and solutions provider:
1. Ask Questions, and Then Listen
Find out everything you can about your customers’ business, including what they need to succeed and to meet their customers’ needs.
2. Anticipate Your Customers’ Needs
Become so informed as to what your customer needs to be successful that you start to understand not only what they need from you today but what they are going to need from you in the future. Anticipate their future needs and find ways to meet those needs before they are even required. This is being a super salesperson.
3. Provide the Solution to Those Needs
Once you have a good understanding of what your customer needs, then do your best to provide the solution to those needs. Find a way. If this means changing your product, then do it. Remember, you have no business without customers.
4. Offer Unsolicited Information That You Know Will Be Helpful
Always be on the lookout for ways to please your customer. Look for articles, books, or other information pertaining directly to your customers’ business needs and make sure you send it to them. This way, you are always in front of them, selling, and providing solutions, even when you are not together.
5. Write Articles, Columns, and White Papers That Demonstrate Your Unbiased Expertise in Your Market
The best way to represent yourself and your company as a true expert is to produce and publish valuable content about your products through content marketing. The key word is valuable. The content has to be unbiased (it cannot be a flagrant sales pitch selling your specific product). Rather, it should be general information and best practice advice on your product. Most markets have a vacuum at the top because most companies tend to look alike to an uninformed buyer, but the company that starts putting valuable public content will claim that leadership position. Apple did this with the iPod. They did not have the best product, but they had the best story (10,000 songs in your pocket). Buyers eschewed all of the other, and in some cases, better brands of MP3 players to buy the Apple product. The same thing can happen to you if you take the expert position by putting out content so valuable that it will be widely read by your customers.
And one more to under promise and over deliver. Really care about your customers’ general welfare. Help them in any way you can. Establish a circle of loyalty with your customers, and it will pay off in the long run.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.