Yet, certain proficiencies can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four sales proficiency traps and how to employ alternative sales skills to avoid them. The first trap involves an over-reliance on technical expertise. To learn about other traps to avoid, check out this article about the dangers of always saying yes.
Your Sales Skills Should Be Built on more than Technical Expertise
Sales professionals who possess superior technical expertise can easily fall into the trap of making this the focal point of relationships with clients. In doing so, they tend to overlook the strategic, organizational, and personal value they could be providing.
As soon as a client need is identified, these technically savvy sellers jump straight to solutions. They talk about themselves, their company, and their expertise to solve the problem. The dialogue becomes focused on the seller, not the buyer, so the client is less engaged. The scope of the solution discussed is limited to the initial need uncovered.
Improve Your Sales Skills by Employing Strategic Dialogue
To avoid this trap, a more strategic dialogue approach can be implemented — one that frames client needs in a bigger picture of the organization’s current situation and desired outcomes. Having this kind of conversation positions the seller as a prospective partner, demonstrating how he/she can help the client address issues that have an impact on his/her success. Clients begin to see the seller as someone who can both help them solve their immediate problem and look at their larger needs.
A strategic dialogue approach goes beyond the immediate need identified and probes areas such as the following:
- Client Objectives — Where are you going?
- Client Challenges — What may get in your way?
- Client Strategies — How do you plan to deal with the challenges?
- Opportunities — How can I help you succeed?
- Implementation Issues — What constraints exist for a potential solution?
Benefits of Avoiding the Technical Trap
Integrating the sales skill of employing a strategic dialogue approach to client conversation takes the seller beyond the transaction to establishing an ongoing relationship. The benefit is the potential for uncovering a more complex opportunity — one where the seller can position a broader range of products and services. Instead of a one-off, this could become a more valuable and lucrative opportunity over time. Developing proficiency in this sales skill also allows the seller to differentiate himself/herself in important ways, versus solving a smaller need that could easily be commoditized.
The best way to avoid the Technical Trap is for the seller to engage in a more strategic dialogue with the client before leveraging his/her technical expertise and discussing solutions. By exploring the strategic, organizational, and personal value that can be delivered, sales professionals can build their sales skills and learn how to understand the full extent of the opportunities that exist today, tomorrow, and into the future.