If your salespeople are selling the same old products the same old way, then you could very well be deep in a rut. Have you backed yourself into a corner as a commoditized order fulfillment broker rather than someone who can truly add value?
As an example of what’s going on in the Financial Services sector, all buyers from individuals and wealthy families to investment committees, chief investment officers, and corporate treasurers are shielding themselves from sales pitches – using RFPs, consultants, procurement officers, and other gatekeepers. They are instead looking for insights and solutions relevant to their goals and challenges. This most obviously changes the game for the new business development officer who is finding it increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and get an appointment. However, this impacts every member of a client-retention or new-business pitch team, including senior leaders and subject matter experts, and their ability to communicate with clients in a way that causes them to engage rather than withdraw.
Who can blame them? “Why should I buy (let alone listen to) what you’re selling? If I’m interested, I’ll research it myself and will contact you if I think you can help me.” We’ve been so conditioned to Google everything and to keep those purse strings tight for so long that it’s now Pavlovian. (I’d also add that Caller ID has also further conditioned us to avoid picking up calls from unknown senders, which further confounds sellers, but that’s another topic.)
With these barriers, how can sales reps regain some control and influence in the selling process?
Engaging and Selling with Value-Based Insights
Many sales teams are anchored by experienced client-facing professionals who over time have developed a set way of talking about industry issues, your organization’s capabilities, and their own qualifications and experience. Even if they’re credible and brilliant, too often these ideas sound generic and frequently fall short of compelling clients, prospects, referral sources, and colleagues to act. It is easy to become complacent and inwardly focused. Unless you’re in a fast-changing business and have a lock on what the market needs, your salespeople need to find a way to move away from an inward, product-based focus and find a more enticing scenario to sell.
Developing and delivering insights and solutions that resonate with clients, prospects, gatekeepers, and centers of influence is a remedy to overcome the same old approach. But as with many dialogue skills, execution is a trickier matter. Effective sales insights and solutions require preparation, deep and current industry and client knowledge, and a communication framework and skills that connect an issue that is relevant to your client with your organization’s ability to help. This should include examples of how this work has impacted others. Finally, value-based insights and solutions require practice to ensure that your people are at their most confident in delivery and, with the help of feedback, that the language they choose is easy to follow and relevant.
Properly prepared and practiced value-based insights have wide application in building your business, enabling:
- Business developers to gain initial meetings;
- relationship managers to expand perceptions about your organization’s capabilities in a new area;
- you and other senior managers to differentiate your organization in a client or sales meeting; and
- subject matter experts to distinguish their ideas as being not just smart, but relevant to the client.
Winning leaders engage their teams in this area by modeling and coaching on the preparation and delivery of relevant insights and solutions.
Instead of allowing your sales team to go out and sell more widgets or widget-based services, teach them how to sell the value and need of those widgets through insights. “Here’s what’s happening in your industry. Maybe this is a surprise to you, or perhaps you knew about it, but didn’t realize the scope of the issue. We’ve helped other clients to overcome this problem (or take advantage of this unique opportunity), and here was the impact. We believe can help you, too. Would you be interested in learning more?”