Engaging with your customer must always occur in the context of helping them achieve their own success.
Focus on the customer. Understand the customer’s pain points in the context of their goals and objectives.
It seems so simple; you have a product designed to do certain things, and your customer has a problem or a pain point that needs to be addressed or perhaps some goal they need to attain to achieve success.
You are positive that your customer will benefit from your product as a means of addressing their needs, and you supply them with detailed product information that explains exactly how each feature works to solve problems. However, your prospect yawns and remains unconvinced that you are offering anything useful to them.
Features and Benefits or Benefits and Features?
Everyone who sells has experienced the thrill of learning about a new product or add-on functionality that will meet specific needs that you previously could not address. How that news is delivered to prospects makes a big difference.
Here are two examples.
Our first salesperson is overjoyed and confident that this news will be world-changing. Our salesperson picks up the phone, calls every prospect and lets them know that the product now has Feature X! However, the response is underwhelming; not a single prospect is sharing the euphoria. In fact, they all seem pretty bored with the news.
Support the Pitch with Technology; Support the Customer with the Pitch
Our second rep is also excited, but this guy doesn’t just pick up the phone and start spreading the news.
Within all the technology available to our sales reps are systems that will help them isolate specific customers that might be aided by the new product capability. This rep compiles a list of qualified candidates and puts together some questions that will reveal details about the individual customer’s needs.
When our second rep calls the customer, he engages the contact in a discussion about that specific pain point or need to determine just how critical the mitigation of that issue is to the customer.
Again, using technology, a scripted, interactive interview process guides the sales rep and the customer toward a full understanding of the issue at hand. At that point, the rep asks, “It seems like solving problem X is an important step in achieving your goals for this year; we have customers successfully addressing problem X with our X-killer feature. Would you be interested in learning more about it?” This approach is why our second rep is booking appointments and making sales while the first rep is staring at the phone wondering what went wrong.
The customer is the focus for our second rep. Our first salesperson is focusing on the product. Product features, buzzwords and slick sheets are frequently confusing to the prospect. The second rep holds the product discussion back and keeps the focus on the customer, the problem at hand and how it affects the customer’s success.
Complex Products and Complex Customers
Okay, what about in the real world? That is a fair question. The example is somewhat simplistic, but the principles behind it are still valid. Let’s talk about complex products being sold to complex organizations.
As organizations de-silo and flatten out, the purchase of complex products frequently becomes more committee-driven. Most of these buying committees are comprised of cross-functional teams that represent all stakeholders who are affected by the problem at hand or impacted by the solution under consideration.
This presents a number of challenges to the sales rep and to the selling organization. Familiarity with the organizational components, how they work together, the individual personalities managing them, the interdependencies in place and how the “problem” at hand is perceived and experienced is critical.
Technology Lights the Way
The salesperson has to effectively operate in this cross-functional matrix. Once again, technology guides the rep through the complexities of the organizational structure and the personalities involved in each unit. The answer to these questions will help the rep work effectively in this complex environment.
Who’s who in the organization? How long have they been in their current position? Are they a leader or a follower? What is their stake in the overall problem? How might they be affected by any possible solution?
Effective salespeople can work in this environment as long as they keep the focus on what represents success for each individual stakeholder. Aligning this with the success factors for the organization as a whole will establish the credibility of the rep and solidify customer confidence in the proposed solution.
Help the Customer Achieve Success
Focus on the customer. Understand the customer’s pain points in the context of their goals and objectives. Rely on the technology available to guide the sale through the complexities of the product, the buying organization and the needs of the individual buyer.