Gone are the days when a salesperson would force the prospect down a rigid, one-way path. People want to make the buying decision in their own way – and we all have different buying patterns. There is no one way!
Today, a salesperson needs to be flexible because the real challenge is getting clear about what is best for the buyer.
While the buyer usually has the beginning of a solution in mind, they are unlikely to have a compete idea. Whether they realize it or not they need your information and consulting skills to complete their thought process.
Most salespeople accept that it’s important to meet the needs of the prospect. The question is; how well do both the salesperson and the buyer understand those needs?
Choices and decisions
Today, with so many choices in so many areas, confusion and uncertainty are the biggest obstacles to a sale. For example;
- A consultant (financial expert, management consultant, accountant, adviser, etc) can’t sell their services before they determine the buyers key areas of key interest.
- Which of the thousands of combinations of handsets, plans, carriers, and extras will you choose when buying a mobile phone?
- When buying advertising, apart from the ad placement options, you have unlimited choice on the creative component of your marketing piece.
The thing for a salesperson to remember is that you’re not selling a product or a service, you’re discussing options. And with so many, what the buyer needs is someone who can help them clearly define what they will gain the most benefits from. Not someone who won’t shut up!
How good are you at discussing options?
The value you offer as a salesperson is the ability to help the buyer identify the criteria that will move them through confusion to clarity and then decision. Your role is to guide the buyer through this process of discovery.
- The starting point; choices and uncertainty.
- Questions to identify needs and options.
- Active listening. Discuss options with buyer. Help them prioritize.
Not only will conversational clarity help you make the sale, it will get you to that point with more professionalism and less effort.
This process of asking questions and discussing options builds a stronger relationship between the buyer and the salesperson because your input becomes a part of their thought process. Of course they want to deal with you – you were there when they worked out what they really needed!
How to be prepared
You may be wondering how to prepare for a sales meeting that could go in any and all directions. The answer is in two parts:
- Have your questions ready to facilitate the clarification process.
- Prepare and practice your sales messages and sort them into chunks.
Then be genuinely objective as you discuss the options with your prospect. Sound too easy? Well, the goal of this article is to give you a summary, but the bigger point is this:
Trying to force your ideas on the prospect makes the sales process more difficult.
So, be prepared to listen (questions), be ready to persuade (your messages) and direct the sales conversation to where it needs to go to get conversational clarity.