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As Buyer Behavior Changes, What Is the Right Approach to Selling?

In our work with leading sales organizations, we have certainly seen a change in the buying landscape.  Today’s buyers are more sophisticated, have more data available, and often have already defined a solution before ever involving a salesperson.

This has created a real challenge for sales organizations and reps.  Techniques and methodologies that worked twenty years ago do not necessarily work now.  As buyers change, sellers too must change — but how?

This year, Richardson will work with nearly 200 clients and train over 100,000 sales managers and reps worldwide.  This provides us a unique perspective to observe and understand what works and what does not.  And what we see is that the best reps utilize a COMBINATION of selling solutions with insights and a consultative approach. 

In this era, reps must bring valuable data and insights to the table to credentialize themselves and encourage the customer to think differently.  Providing insights is an approach that should be used in every dialogue with a customer, no matter where you may be in the sales process.  Our latest thinking has taken our approach to bringing valuable insights much earlier in the sales process to actually help create needs and opportunities where they do not currently exist (or at least where the customer has not yet recognized them).

The idea of using insights to create needs is a challenging concept for many salespeople and one where research and expertise pay off in making sure the insight you provide is relevant and timely.  In fact, we believe that a rep’s ability to help a customer navigate the massive amounts of data available to them may be more valuable than actually sharing the data or insight itself!  According to IBM, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.  So, there is inherent value in helping a customer cut through the clutter and identify the key best practices and drivers for success.

But along with sharing an insight comes a great deal of risk.  If not done well, a rep sharing an insight may sound arrogant, may share an insight that is off the mark, or may miss an opportunity to gauge the relevance of that insight to that particular customer.

The key is to balance sharing an insight with the core tenant of Consultative Selling and selling solutions: asking good questions.  While clients may want to hear something new, they certainly also want to discuss what matters most to them and how conditions impact their organization and themselves personally.  To ignore a customer’s needs and not spend time asking questions would be perilous.  As with sharing an insight, there is a timing and a method to asking questions.

The best reps utilize powerful questioning skills in front of, alongside of, and after sharing insights.  In addition, the ability to articulate the value of a solution tailored to the customer’s needs remains a critical element to successfully pursuing an opportunity.  The value needs to be demonstrated in the customer’s terms and with an eye towards the metrics that matter most to them.

So, it is through the COMBINATION of selling solutions with insights and a consultative approach that reps can not only create customer opportunities but also win them by demonstrating credibility, creating value, understanding needs, and aligning the value of solutions to customers’ business drivers.

About the Author

As Richardson’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrea is responsible for demand generation and value creation through strategic marketing, brand awareness, digital optimization, product launch initiatives, and market-facing thought leadership to drive sustained, organic growth. With a passion for sales and customer-centric activity, Andrea and her team work to inspire customers across the engagement lifecycle and support them in their journey to market leadership by delivering fresh perspectives to their sales challenges.

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