Why is Sally consistently at the top of the sales leaderboard week after week? And why are you treading water in the middle of the pack? What is she doing that you're not? Does this drive you crazy? If you’re asking yourself these questions, or if you’re a leader of a sales organization that is pondering this about members of your team, keep reading.
The most significant distinction between the top performers in a sales organization and the rest of the pack is their approach and mindset. The sales rep like Sally with the approach and mindset of a “trusted advisor” has developed and leveraged the use of need-based selling skills to help customers with their needs, rather than just selling a product or service. Contrast this person with typical sales people—individuals in the middle of the pack.
Is This You?
As a general rule, the typical sales rep is quota driven—they focus on the product or services that they can sell quickly and easily, those that will help them attain their monthly sales quota. Their outlook is one of immediate satisfaction: get the signature on the order and get out. Like the habitual gambler, he or she will act the same way repeatedly with the expectation of a different and more lucrative result. There is no jackpot here, only missed sales opportunities, transient and ineffective sales reps, and a company with lackluster sales.
Change Your Vantage Point
By comparison, a sales rep like Sally with the mindset of a trusted advisor looks at their position from a different vantage point. He or she approaches sales as a mechanism or a means with which to help people; that is, to help people succeed, to help people accomplish more, and to help make people's lives better or easier. As a trusted advisor, the sales rep who has adopted this innovative approach moves beyond thinking solely of the transaction and develops a personal relationship with the client to collaborate and find answers.
Ask To Understand
Ask needs-discovery questions to uncover your customer's pain points—some of which may not even been known to the customer until you have this conversation. An extremely important part of this dialog, in addition to asking relevant and precise questions, is the ability to listen. As you dig, don't be afraid to ask a question to which you don't know the answer. While absorbing this information, you should be thinking about the solutions you have and how to match them to the customer's needs. For example, "What do I sell that solves her problem with productivity or increasing business leads," or "How can I modify our standard product to do what the customer needs it to do."
By taking a sincere and genuine interest in their objectives and issues, you will develop a rapport with your customer and forge a strong relationship where they will seek you out for answers and rely on what you say.
Don’t Listen To Critics
Critics claim that this consultative sales approach of dialog with active listening and probing questions, and needs assessment slows the sales process and hinders the close. Not so. To the contrary, the more you leverage this approach and implement these techniques, the more rapidly your customers will see you as their consultant or trusted advisor—rather than a person trying to get his or her foot in the door and selling the product of the week. The sales process will move more quickly and efficiently, and you will have the ability to work smarter not harder.