Bring Your Well-Conceived Perspective to the Sale or Lose Your Prospect

blogpostTo anyone involved in selling, it is no surprise that the business-to-business selling environment is the most challenging of all types of selling. Sellers confront buyers with far more choices that ever before. More people contribute to the ultimate decision. And the RFP process is more structured, all of which make for a complex sale.

Once, prospects and customers valued salespeople for their product knowledge and their availability; today, however, prospects research product features/benefits/advantages online. Worse yet, prospects may listen to uninformed salespeople.

The more discerning prospects expect salespeople to know their business and offer solutions and alternatives to solve their problems. This attitude is a real differentiator between B2B buyers and B2C buyers.

To carry this approach further, a salesperson with a solid perspective on the selling environment ensures all buying influencers in the decision process think have through relevant issues and their impact on the prospect’s business. Top salespeople walk decision makers through all possible solutions to guide the outcome to a successful sale. When you sell with perspective, you bring your field knowledge and expertise to bear on every opportunity.

Here are three useful ways to unlock your potential to provide perspective:

1. Understand the prospect/customer/stakeholder:

Put simply, you need to understand the prospect’s vision of what he wants to fix, accomplish or avoid. Target your messages to the prospect’s vision for a solution wherever he is in the buying cycle. Informed prospects have visited your website and armed themselves with basics about your organization and your value proposition. It is likely they’ve explored possible solutions to their situation.

Naturally, then, static marketing/sales messages fall flat when the salesperson does no more than a rehash what the buyer already knows. You need to stand-out from your competitors and bring a fresh perspective to every prospect engagement. By avoiding the dangers of product dump, you’ll better understand the prospect’s vision for a solution because you’ll ask questions and listen more closely. The simple act of focusing on the prospect’s vision for a solution sets the entire conversation on the right track from the outset. According to the Marketing Leadership Counsel, 53 percent of buyers of products and services selected their preferred vendor based on its sales process versus its products and services. The Rain Group also confirms in its study that the number one reason buyers bought from a given vendor: It helped to educate them with a new perspective on their situation.

2. Bring a meaningful analysis of their situation:

Once the salesperson understands the prospect’s vision for a solution, she must be able to articulate what success looks when her product or service connects to the prospect’s unique situation. Providing perspective requires mastery of your products and capabilities, but, more importantly, the ability to apply them in context of the prospect’s world.

Buyers will be receptive to listening to your point of view when you proceed from a fact-based standpoint. And when you provide data, it not only proves the case you are proposing, but it also allows the prospect to predict his results going forward.

This stage of the decision-making process is critically important, as buyers go through a divergent thinking phase to understand all of the possible alternatives available— before you connect your solution to the prospect’s issues. In this phase, the decision-makers consider a variety of solutions that might address their particular needs. Divergent thinking sounds like this: “How about. . .?,    What if . . .?  Let’s consider . . .? When this thinking and discussion is augmented by solid data, the prospect regards you as a trusted advisor and not as a salesperson pushing your products.

3.Provide valuable advice and new ways of thinking that lead to solutions:

To be sure, the sales professional must make happen whatever the prospect wants—to fix, accomplish, or avoid. Prospects want to deal with a salesperson who focuses beyond the sale through to the results the prospect wants to achieve.

Be prepared to provide specific research that backs up your position and shows the prospect the direction that others have already taken or used to achieve predictable success. More than research, sales professionals must bring the lessons learned and experiences developed from other client selling situations so that these clients can help new customers avoid unintended consequences of overlooking a subtle element in the process.

Make no mistake: While perspective selling sounds basic to all of us, it is a big differentiator in the marketplace. The discerning sales professional would do well to put it into practice.

See you on the upside, Bill
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