Oct 15 2012
Let’s face it: No matter how great your products and services and no matter how great your sales track record, selling in today’s tumultuous times is still more challenging than ever. There can be no doubt about that:
• Prospective clients are increasingly cautious and hesitant about buying.
• Sales cycles are definitely getting longer and longer plus there are fewer buyers overall.
• Even existing, satisfied buyers are foregoing new purchases and making do with existing resources.
But rather than focus on the downside of a down economy, what if you consider the upside of the down economy …the upside of the down?
The upside is simple: Consider that your opportunities for larger and longer-term gain are magnified because of the down economy.
While everyone else is running around caught up in the depression, you have an opportunity to radically change your mind-set about selling and your approach to how it’s done.
If you are willing to commit to making this shift, there’s a better than even chance that you’ll exponentially multiply the lifetime monetary value of your best accounts as well as the difference that you can make.
We call this approach “Selling based on being valuable”
Unquestionably, fresh approaches and skills are required to successfully sell in this challenging environment. While sales strategies and techniques have their place and the quality of your products and services remains paramount, these factors alone won’t complete the sale for you.
Selling based on outcomes and value provided makes more sense than ever. By all means, sell based on the specific results, improvements, outcomes, and experiences that buyers get from using your products and services, but I challenge you to take this to another level – a deeper, more meaningful level: Become more valuable to your existing and potential buyers by becoming known and valued as a trusted resource of information, expertise, and guidance. Some of the solutions to their problems and challenges may lie outside the realm of what your own products and services can directly provide, yet you can still point customers in the right direction. While this approach may make common sense, it isn’t commonly practiced. Nor is it consistently practiced. Are you up for it?
So then, here are a few ideas on how to become more valuable in the minds, hearts, and eyes of your buyers. If you’ll commit to consistently practicing at least some of them, you’ll ultimately position yourself as a valued resource rather than as a commodity or, worse yet, someone who only cares about the short-term gain of the sale.
1) Commit to learning what they specifically want to accomplish in their business or job and why it’s so important to them. Inquire sincerely and really listen. And dig. Don’t just accept the first three or so answers; those are typically superficial. Ask genuine questions about what they’re up to. Learn about their initiatives and goals as well as their challenges and concerns about reaching them.
2) Create a success library. Do you have a readily accessible collection of articles, websites, audios, and other media that might be of interest to your customers? This may seem obvious for items that pertain directly to your products and/or services, but be sure to expand the breadth and depth of your value by including resources that are of value to your customers, but may not necessarily promote your products and services.
3) Provide educational and training programs. Doing so positions you as an expert in your field and, in general, people like to buy from perceived experts, especially those they know, like, and trust. These can be live, in-person events and/or virtual events, such as teleseminars and webinars. They may be free or for a fee. And, to add greater depth of expertise and value, you can bring in other experts from complementary fields.
4) Create a “success rolodex” and share it freely. You might not be the best solution provider in every case, but you probably know someone who is. Do you have a rolodex of proven, reliable collaborators, even those in the same field as you? While others in the same field may be viewed as competitors, they may better serve your customer’s immediate needs. If there is a spirit of generosity and best serving the needs of the customer, your competitors become true collaborators.
5) Develop a mindset of contribution. Readily share ideas on how your prospective and existing customers can more readily achieve their goals and initiatives. Weave these ideas into your sales conversations. Yes, there’s a risk of confusing your buyers or sending them too far off track from what you specifically have to offer through your products and services. But if you approach this from the right mindset and a spirit of genuine concern for helping, then you probably won’t need to worry about that.
In a sense, selling from this mindset no longer is selling. Selling becomes an elevated form of education and sharing of knowledge; it becomes a means of contributing to the welfare of others.
This mindset, attitude, and approach transform selling to the realm of educating, connecting, and supporting one another and sincerely helping others to achieve their goals.
It avoids selling for the short-term gain, only to lose the long-term value of a client
Making this a normal part of your selling approach is certain to position you as a leader and valued resource. Businesses will pledge their loyalty and send their referrals.
Ultimately, the economy will regain strength and resistance to buying will shift. Adopting this approach of “selling by contributing” will position you to:
• Attract more and better customers.
• Increase the average transaction size of each sale, and
• Enhance the likelihood that buyers will buy more often and from you.
If you want to sell more and sell easier, then first give. Give of yourself. Give of your expertise. Give of your extended circle of expertise.
Do this, and you’ll transform the process of selling to the gift of contributing value, creating a following that is certain to exponentially expand.
Connecting with your buyers this way is more fulfilling. That connection leads to trust and that naturally leads to a collaborative relationship. Ultimately, this level of relationship enhances your ability to contribute to the welfare of your buyers and their own clientele.
This is a sure-fire approach in any economy – up or down. You win. Your customers win. Their customers win. Isn’t that an outcome worth striving for?
Latest News: I love competitions, and right now in Italy they are running a Best Sales Blog 2012 contest: Pretty meaty line-up of chums (I know them all apart from Don Cooper – he looks like a little devil doesn’t he? LINE-UP) and they will announce the winner in mid-November – what an excellent idea, and the organizer Marco Rasi is to be congratulated.