In today’s market, your customers are no longer relying on sales people for background information when they start their buying process. They are doing their research up front through the internet (hopefully through your web site) and by having conversations with colleagues from other companies. As a result, when they are ready to sit down with vendors they are looking for something more. They are trying to determine who can be trusted to help them successfully execute. In short, who has “been there, done that”?
Their opinion of your organization on that issue will be formed entirely through the conversations that they have with your front line sales reps and anyone else that they come into direct contact with during the sales process. If they leave a bad impression, it can put you behind your competitors, even if you have the better product or service.
Creating Customer Confidence
The keys to creating confidence during sales conversations include:
- Asking intelligent questions that both demonstrate that she understands what the customer is going through and leads the prospect to the conclusion that they have specific problems that only your company can solve for them.
- Smoothly demonstrating that your company understands how to execute through strong value statement along with compelling evidence of your experience as close to their prospect’s situation as possible.
- Providing insightful suggestions to help the customer develop a plan that will guide them through the remaining stages of their buying process.
These are things that customers expect every time they speak to someone, either face-to-face or over the phone. In short, a single conversation with an unprepared rep can get you eliminated from the competition before it starts. That’s why you can’t afford to put someone who is still learning the ropes on the front line.
Experts are Hard to Find
At the same time, hiring experts who have sales skills is expensive …. REALLY expensive! True “been-there, done that” expert sales people are in high-demand, so finding just a few is hard. Stocking an entire sales force with them is pretty much impossible. So, what is the alternative?
How good is your company good at helping someone with less experience sound like an expert when they are talking to a customer?
The Capacity to Cultivate Expertise
Mastering that challenge is a significant way that your sales team can create value for your organization. It allows you to hire people with strong sales backgrounds, but no industry or product experience. Without that capability you are forced into the never ending battle of winning and losing “talent” back and forth with from your competitors. Only mediocre sales talent wins that battle.
The key to building the necessary capacity is a proven sales process built around sales enablement tools that smoothly plug into the customer’s process. In short, you must truly know how to sell your product or service before you can hope for positive results launching it through a sales organization. Some of the tools that must be developed include:
- Persona providing an outline the needs of the specific prospect types that reps will be calling on.
- Value statements relating to the specific problems that you solve better than your competitors for each specific persona that you identify.
- Qualifying questions to help them understand buyer-specific context that will determine whether they are a likely prospect.
- A set of conversational questions that can be used to help the prospect confirm that they have the problems you alone can help them solve.
- Soft close questions to help them quantify the impact of each problem.
- Targeted evidence that demonstrates your ability to deliver on your promises.
These elements are just foundation. Understanding the unique interaction between your product or service and your customers’ buying process will help you identify other components that are necessary to creating the customer trust that will eventually win you the business.