For far too long, salespeople have been operating under the belief that the customer is always right—even when they’re wrong. It wasn’t considered “good business” to argue with a customer, or to point out their mistakes. While it’s not a good idea to insult a customer, differentiating your team may be enhanced by your willingness to point out a customer’s mistakes or oversights. If your sales team is having trouble meeting goals and hitting targets, it could be partially due to an outdated view of their role regarding the customer. If they’re still acting only as problem solvers, then you’re the one with the problem. The role of the salesperson has greatly expanding and those who don’t keep up will be left behind.
A World of Problem Solvers
When a customer encounters a problem, one of their first steps is usually to research that problem – usually on the internet. This gives them access to a wealth of information about the issue and proposed solutions, and introduces them to thousands of people who are in various stages of dealing with similar situations. By the time they come to your sales team (if they do), they’ll already have some sense of a solution in mind, and a good idea of what that solution should cost. This relegates your sales team to the role of broker—their only hope of closing the deal is to underbid other companies that offer the same value. All of the training and experience your sales team has to offer is wasted in what amounts to price quote.
Ahead of the Curve
Insight selling is a new way of dealing with customer problems. Instead of waiting for a well-informed customer to walk through the door and drive down your margins, your sales team should start by challenging the customers framework. This disruption can be created by introducing opportunities that the buyer may not be aware of, risks that they have not yet investigated and perspectives and engagements of value. Your reps will start to be viewed as a source of good information, a trusted specialist and will be more able to uncover the insights needed to align value.
Another advantage of insight selling is getting customers to look at problems from a different perspective. Even if the customer has already discovered a problem, and looked at solutions, that doesn’t mean that they’ve correctly identified all aspects of the issue. Many customers suffer from tunnel vision, and don’t see how a short-term solution can create to long-term problems. By training your sales team to push the envelope and look beyond the obvious, you can give them the ability to see the larger picture. By communicating this larger picture to the customers, they can demonstrate value and initiate a discussion, that differentiates them from competitors.
Traditional sales training tells salespeople to focus on satisfying customer needs. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work well when the customer is not interested in spending the time to share their issues with your salespeople. By preparing and presenting disruptive engagement at the beginning of the sales process we can overcome that obstacle. Once trust is building, prepare an Insight Panel of all the key questions that are needed to move the customer into aligning the richest value you can provide. Use your CRM or other technology to map and manage relationships with this new set of data. It will greatly improve your sales effectiveness.