How to sell and engage buyers in the digital, remote, and noisy world is definitely a challenge we all face. Without a learning pathway, very few of us salespeople will ever get to master the sales skills to be truly successful. The spray and pray days of contacting buyers with little more than a sales pitch to hit our sales targets have long since passed. The modern buyer demands more and expects a more personalized, tailored experience. So, we need to be experts in our market, an advisor, a trusted source of data, a credible resource, and a consultant all in one.
We are no longer just selling; we are a sharer of information. And we need to be bring more value and insights than the information the buyer can read freely on the web without us!!
How to sell and engage buyers
Buyers whether B2B or a consumer are re-evaluating how they buy, how they want to be dealt with, the experience they want when purchasing and the values of the salespeople they communicate with. To sell successfully, we need to do level up to meet these changing needs. In the digital business world, we need to see ourselves as experts and professionals that reflect the values of the customers we interact with.
As it becomes harder for companies to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, we as salespeople need to be the signal not the noise. In fact, when it comes to customer interactions, we may be the last competitive advantage a company has. Yes, salespeople. Social media and digital marketing is causing information overload across the buyers journey. They are bombarded with product options, pricing models, innovations, channels and offers. How to sell and engage buyers on a human level that puts their needs first is the only sales game in town.
The paradox in selling is that while it has been never easier to identify a set of customers it has become increasingly difficult to talk and engage with them on a human level.
It’s time for a new approach to how we sell: to blend multi-channel and highly personalized selling to address this rapid change in buying behavior. We need to upskill in how we go about selecting, attracting, and bringing value to buyers across multiple channels including social media, video, etc. We need help and assistance on how to broaden our skillset, how we provide appropriate insights on and being relevance to customers. How do we win their trust and, ultimately, increase revenue and reduce sales stress for both the salesperson and the buyer.
The future of selling for us is to be someone who is data driven, we can turn information into usable insights, and we research our customers to ensure we deliver value beyond the sale. We can strategize with our customers and collaborate on the expected future outcome. We can bring unconsidered needs and identify problems that our customers may be unaware of.
Research Our Prospects or Customers
We here at The Digital Sales Institute have written about this numerous times. Separate out our sales skills from the people we really want to sell to. We can’t build a sales process or sales playbook until we can identify who is likely to have the problems our solutions solves. Who will be receptive to our approach and why? What unique or compelling need does our product or service solve. Why would this customer set listen to what we have to say. What is going on inside their business that they would care enough to talk or meet with us. How do they like to engage with businesses like ours?
Customer target selection solves who are our target customers, which will serve as a focus for our sales activities, decision making, and other sales tactics. Sales success is more likely to come from figuring out which businesses would understand our product or service and recognize the most value in using it.
We Research Their World
This is where we become market experts. What is the life, work, and environment our customers operate in. What news, regulations, compliance, or other impacts are we aware of. Do we have trends, statistics, neutral information on their market or needs? What is shaping their world and what issues keep them awake at night.
If we truly understand who the target customers market, then we can:
- Differentiate our value proposition to the customers’ needs
- Supercharge & align go-to-market tactics to them
- Customize every facet of our sales activity to the target customers
- Ultimately, drive better customer value than competitors
We Focus on the Buyer
We know that buying, in fact most purchases can be classified as a change management project. In how to sell and engage buyers we need to focus on the subject of change, because it’s central to understanding the buyer. People or businesses rarely innovate for innovation’s sake. The decision to buy a new accounting system is driven by something such as: growth in revenues that an old system can’t keep up with, a lack of features that are adequate to the demands of public reporting prior to an IPO, or changes in technology that allow more flexible mobile reporting. Whatever the situation is, something has happened that makes this urgent or important enough to focus resources on now.
A good suggestion is for us to ask the following questions to help understand what’s changing:
What’s important to them and what’s driving the change?
What’s impeding or speeding their need to change?
How do they go about change?
What do they need to know to embrace change?
Who do they turn to for advice or information?
What’s the value they visualize once they make a decision?
Who do they have to sell change to in order to get it?
What could cause the need for this change to lose priority?
Create our Unique Selling Points
We need to really understand our points of difference and what are our unique selling points. Begin by making a list of what we know about our target audience. Then, make a list of all the needs that our product or service could meet – these attributes are all potential selling points for our business. Next, screen these against trends and competitors. Now remove the selling points that are already being well met by our competitors. Don’t forget that our USP is a unique selling proposition, so we are looking for a gap in the market. Match each potential USP against what we and our business are especially good at, and how we want to be seen.
Then we should go and conduct short interviews with about ten people in our target market to choose the strongest USP for our business. Double-check that we have the right USP. Does it convey one strong benefit? Is it memorable? Is it clear who the brand is targeting from the USP? Can we deliver what it promises? Is it really unique – or could a competitor claim the same thing? Use this positioning to develop our business and our sales tactics. Evaluate our sales activities using our USP as a benchmark. We need to continually monitor the market trends and new competitors that could affect how customers see our USP.
Develop a Sales Conversation Plan
Our sales conversation plan enables us to maximize our sales efforts and opportunities. The goal of our sales conversations are to ascertain if a problem exists, and the customer is willing to act on that problem. So, we must ensure we get critical issues on the table so they can be worked on. We engage buyers in a meaningful two-way discussion. The sales skills to actively listens to hear our client’s real needs. Can we expertly challenge our clients to think differently and collaborate internally and externally to build a solution that’s best for everyone.
Show to sell and engage buyers revolves around 2 core activities. Conversations and Commitments. So, making an early impression is important, but ongoing engagement closes more sales. That is possible only by deeply understanding a client and industry and their unique long-term solution requirements. It requires us to ask deep questions, where we are listening as much as talking.
Our role as a salesperson means we should talk a lot less than our customers do.
The job of a professional salesperson is to control the conversation by asking well-crafted questions that prompt the customer to talk more and disclose their needs. The least successful salespeople think that listening means “waiting to interrupt.” The best salespeople ask more questions and listen effectively. The least successful salespeople present information too early. The best salespeople present information when they fully understand their clients’ problems and can see a solution.
To get a sale and a customer, you must first understand what your customers want and need and what the differences are between the two.
Prospecting and Lead Generation
We know that selling today is a multi-channel and multi-activity endeavor. Gone are the days when we only used cold calls or email to identify prospects and spark sales conversations. Traditional ways of developing relationships such as face-to-face meetings, video calls, events and dinners, gifts, and promotional marketing collaterals will live on but will be complimented by wholly new digital relationship building capabilities.
These new ways of selling include prospecting focuses on “pull” versus “push”; warm introductions via contacts, connecting with friends, school/university classmates, ex-work colleagues, etc; and social hours (vs. call hours). And we will benefit from having hundreds of millions of searchable prospects on social networks at our disposal as well as the ‘collective network’, the aggregation of all our companies employees contacts which can be shared and tapped for introductions to potential customers.
Similarly, our relationship building will be fostered through a deep understanding and advancement of a customer’s agenda via such things as sharing news, information and high-value content, engagement in digital communities, and the execution of other “digital gracious acts” or online favor that people appreciate and value. Developing trust quickly and consistently measuring trust over time will be critical to sustaining our long-term relationships.
The fact is, selling is evolving rapidly to encompass a blend of traditional and digital channels, as well as a mix of real life human and online social interactions.
With customers increasingly educating themselves online and interacting via digital channels, we need make the transition to consultative sellers: digitally savvy guides who make ourselves indispensable by deeply understanding our customers’ needs and providing solutions that meet them. These sales training video insights might help.
Four Sales Trends That We Should Focus on Now.
Know Our customer
How to sell and engage buyers starts with us knowing our customer and their circumstances. We need to understand the balance of risk and opportunity for any customer to consider opening up to a problem. Then, be clear on our sales messaging, that it is relevant and personalized. That we know what is needed to help buyers protect themselves against areas such as financial uncertainty, business uncertainty and risk. What is to be gained to talking to us and the opportunity we will present to act now for future realization.
Map Out Our Customer Interactions
We need to map out and determine how we will go about interacting with our customers in the future. Consider what is the future role of social media, digital and traditional selling in our sales activities. Do we have value propositions and compelling reasons why they should listen to our messaging? How will we build our personal brand reputation with prospects. Do we know how to create credibility and trustworthiness as these are rapidly growing buyer concerns. How should our sales approach adapt? What new messaging, interactions and experiences are required for us to have more quality sales conversations?
Target Selectively for ROSE
We all need a Return On Sales Effort because the reality is we can’t sell to everyone. Do we know the targets we serve and the profile of customer best suited to our approaches. What makes these profile worthy of our effort? What keeps them awake at night? How do you measure our ROSE (Return On Sales Effort), is it demos, appointments, meetings, or sales. Where should we place our bets and where will we invest our valuable sales time? Why would our selected profiles be open to a sales conversation with us, really ask ourselves why they would listen and why will they care.
Demonstrate our Purpose to be Valuable
If we are to be the signal rising above the noise, we need to ask “What is our point of differentiation to the market? What do we and our company stand for over and above getting a sale done. Note: It is important in a digital world to be transparent, believable, and trustworthy. What is it about our personal brand and purpose that means consumers and buyers should buy into us and not the competition. How will we make their life easier, better, more rewarding, and successful. What are our values we will not negotiate on? Are we willing and ready to serve in order to sell?
How to sell and engage buyers is becoming more complex with less time than we think to create impact and value. Investing in our sales skills and even some free sales training can make the road ahead more comfortable and enjoyable. Best wishes until next time.