Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox Corporation.
Modern customers believe they are missing out on relationships with knowledgeable salespeople who take the time to listen and act as trusted advisors. In fact, only 22 percent of customers find that salespeople understand their issues and where they can help. Prospects and customers alike look for answers at their pace and when they finally connect with a salesperson; most have narrowed the supplier list to a few. At this phase of the buyer’s journey, it’s important to offer a helping attitude.
Too often, salespeople think about the end game. They don’t take the time to invest in relationships with customers, which leads to retention, customer satisfaction and upsell opportunities. This is your chance to distinguish your business from the competition. Understand your customer’s needs and challenges and offer solutions to overcome their obstacles. This strategy builds trust and naturally leads to the close of deals.
Here are eight key strategies for Xerox Channel Partners to help sales teams relate to customers, build relationships, and close more business:
- Sell business outcomes not products
A printer is a just a printer and a copier is just a copier – until it can translate the incoming documents from your Munich office in a matter of seconds. Take the time to research your prospects before connecting to gain insight to start conversations with an understanding of their goals and challenges. With their needs in mind, recommend solutions that solve their problems and impact their business in a positive way.
- Clarify your value prop
Looking critically at your competition is something every salesperson should do – regularly. Research their website along with their product messaging, positioning, and pricing. Understand who has come and gone from their team and assess where they’re excelling or failing. Only then can you craft a value proposition that addresses the buyer’s needs while edging ahead of the competition.
- Build rapport with influencers
There is a good chance the people conducting research on your website or calling for more information are not decision makers. Many times, they’re influencers. Building relationships with them is undervalued by many salespeople. The faster you build trust and rapport, the faster the influencers will make an introduction to the decision maker, and the closer you will be to signing a deal.
- What you say means nothing
It’s not what you say; it’s what prospects believe that matters. You might have what you believe is a stellar presentation, but if they don’t believe you, you might as well have stayed home that day. Build trust and credibility by asking open-ended questions that lead to pain points and listen to the answers. Show curiosity and then demonstrate (not tell) how you solve their problems.
- Tell stories
Prospects resonate with stories because story telling is embedded deep in the roots of humanity and aids in our ability to retain details. Create stories and case studies around your value proposition, make the opening dramatic and engaging, and keep it interesting. If your story is compelling and offers proof, they’ll want to stay for the outcome.
- Skip revenue goals – focus on activity goals
It’s easy for salespeople to fixate on revenue goals. There’s nothing inherently wrong with keeping revenue top-of-mind, except when sales are not panning out. To keep momentum, focus on the number of lead generation emails you send, prospects you contact on social media, and other sales-related activities, such as lead nurturing. Calculate the conversion rate of sales by dividing the number of closed deals by the number of leads. This calculation determines the number of activities (emails, calls, etc.) that you should initiate over a set time period.
- Target mapping
In marketing, prospects are “the audience” or the “persona.” In sales, they’re “targets.” No matter the label, understanding them matters. Research their buying habits, discover their pain points, and connect the dots. These insights from Leah Quesada, VP, Global SMB Channels Marketing on How Buyer Personification Drives Demand Generation, will help get you started.
- When the answer is no – ask why
When your prospects choose a different supplier or current customers leave, don’t let the let them walk away without leaving you with gold nuggets of useful information. The word “no” can be tough especially when you’ve put a lot of time, effort, and thought into a potential sale. However, understanding why will give you a treasure trove of opportunity to hone, adjust, and improve. Was it price? Something we did wrong? Or is it the product or solution we pitched?
The Internet provides easy access to all the information buyers could possibly want and puts them in charge of the sales cycle. It’s no longer about broadcasting and disrupting; it’s about putting your business, products and solutions where your buyers will easily find them. It’s also about helping, educating, and building trust first – and selling second.
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