How many times within the past couple of years have you found yourself telling a customer something they already knew? Or has a customer rushed you through your spiel, urging you to get to the stuff they haven’t read about? Maybe you’ve misquoted a stat and your customer has corrected you.
None of these scenarios is positive but they all point to one thing: today's buyer is more sophisticated and adept at finding information and increasingly less dependent on you to be their source.
Don’t just take our word for it. Thanks in part to the vast amount of information available via social media, blogs, reviews and smart technology, some research has indicated that the buyer has completed as much as 60 percent of the decision before even speaking to a sales representative.
What does this mean for you, the sales professional?
It means progressing past the finer points of consultative or Need-Based Selling, to actually analyze the buying process and uncover where the customer is in their overall decision. It’s finding out what the prospect has already accomplished, and determining their appropriate “point of entry.”
This is a new paradigm of selling – one which many sales reps may find uncomfortable and somewhat counterintuitive. But it’s not difficult; it’s just different. Following a different set of criteria, like the points below, will help reps to anticipate for and prepare to demonstrate real value for the informed customer.
1. Find the right opportunities.
When targeting companies, a sales rep needs to conduct a detailed analysis of the organization and determine the type of value that he or she can bring to the client that they had not considered previously.
This goes beyond simply analyzing what products/services they are currently purchasing and with whom they work. The rep must think about how he or she fits into the decision-making process, and how they can bring new ideas to the table – ideas that assist the client in moving forward in the process, rather than only consulting to identify needs.
2. Consider the general conditions within the company.
A company that has more unknowns and is more agile in how they will accomplish their objective in the future may be worth targeting. In any case, by understanding the capabilities and the current state of the company and its industry, a sales rep will be able to determine to whom he or she can potentially bring value and new ideas, and which individuals would pose more challenges in doing so.
3. Knowing when to interconnect within the organization.
Not only knowing when, but where, and what the process is for doing so. When the rep has identified their contact, he or she should be considering, "What unrecognized need does this customer have?” “What is the best method for making contact?”
Over are the days where we only have an option to make a call or send an email to connect with a prospective client. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other forms of social media all offer opportunities to make an initial connection. The better prepared the rep, the better idea he or she will have for where improvement can be made.
4. Ascertain the unique value you bring to the client's buying process.
This is the final step or element. It goes without saying that maintaining a strong relationship with the client is another critical factor but it now goes well beyond the “relationship.”
The sales reps that embrace this change will choose to target clients that have already begun to change the way they buy. They will add their unique value to the process by provocatively providing meaningful insights, and will help guide the client in their purchasing decisions.
These are the sales reps that will become indispensable, and will continue to perform at a high level. Preparing for this shift in sales will put these sales reps ahead of the curve and far ahead of other sales professionals.
Don't let the buyer be the only one who's informed, keep learning!