June 26, 2009

What will it take to win over today’s buyers?

What is it going to take to win over increasingly demanding and budget strapped buyers? Well, here is a step by step formula:

1. Go beyond features to benefits and then keep on going…

Go beyond features to benefits and then keep on going. That is because buyers are not as impressed by benefits lists as we sellers like to think they are.

Benefits are a hypothesis about what is important to the buyer, a catch all list of possible reasons to buy. But, that is all they are. The problem is that most benefits and features lists are too long. They tend to be laden with adjectives and are vague, unquantified and subjective.

Another problem is that benefits often suffer from a crisis of identity being regularly mistaken for features. They also tend to be written with the technical, as opposed to the business buyer in mind and generally do not reflect the issues of concern to senior management.

So it is time to move beyond feature and benefits selling – to stop telling the customer what the benefits are and listening to what it is that he, or she wants to achieve. It is time to start selling solutions, right?

2. Go beyond selling solutions and then keep going...

Selling products and services is so 1990s, so you would be mistaken for thinking that you should be selling solutions instead. Well, not necessarily so. That is because too often salespeople start selling a solution before they understand the problem, or need that it is meant to solve for the customer.

Here is the problem - buyers don’t really want what you are selling! Rather they want the results that it can help them to achieve. So, your SOA enabled turnkey solution is not what you should spend most of your time talking about. Instead, you should be discussing the end results that your prospect wants to achieve and how your other customers have achieved something similar.

The challenge of moving beyond the solution can be made more difficult by some customers, for example when they send out an RFP, or request a proposal without giving the salesperson an opportunity to really understand their needs. In any respect, the buyer may have a less than complete understanding of his/her needs.

For example, we regularly are asked to provide proposals in respect of the provision of training to sales people. Our wisdom gained over many years, tells us that sales training (at least the traditional variety) generally falls short of delivering what managers want to achieve. So we try to better understand what challenges or priorities are facing the sales team and the results expected. With this information we are can put training in its proper context in terms of the full range of options available.

So, you have gone beyond the solution to focus on the need, but is that all? Well, it is a great start. Now keep going till your conversation has left needs in the shade and started to focus on results.

3. Go beyond the pain and the problem to the results…

It is fashionable to talk about point of pain for the buyer as the fundamental motivation to buy and in particular as providing the impetus to buy now. This is one step up, in terms of intensity, from the focus on the problem as a means of selling your solution.

However, while both of these elements are important an even more compelling approach is to focus on what your customer is trying to achieve. That is the hope, as opposed to the pain and the opportunity as opposed to the problem.

So, what is the business impact of your solution? Specifically, how will it impact on the Productivity, Performance, Revenue and Profit of your prospect? What business results will it enable your customers to achieve? How will it impact on key business metrics?

4. Go beyond results and keep going until you get to the strategy…

With buying decisions being made higher and wider in most organisations, there is still one common denominator for senior buyers – that is business strategy. Sales people must connect with managers not through the focus on solutions, problems and pain, but instead on their strategy for their business. That is what they want to achieve and how the salesperson’s solution can make it a reality.

Having moved beyond the solution to the need and beyond the need to the results, you are ready to relate to the buyer in a totally new way. That is to connect with managers not by focusing on their strategy for their business. That is what they want to achieve and how the seller’s solution can make it a reality.

Selling at a strategy level can present a challenge for many salespeople. That is because it requires a new level of insight, as well as a new language – one that is more akin to business people than traditional salespeople. It is the transition from salesperson to trusted advisor and requires deeper relationships, as well as high levels of credibility and trust.

1 comment:

mariana said...
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