Tag Archives: #Sales

UNDERSTANDING THE CUSTOMER

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The Psychology of Selling

Understanding the dynamics of human behavior and how to effectively approach different people are critical skills for sales professionals. Along these lines, a salesperson’s first order of business is to observe rather than react. Observation leads to selecting the right approach for each person.

Assertiveness, responsiveness, and adaptability are three dimensions of human behavior. Assertiveness and responsiveness play a role in each of four distinct behavioral styles:

  1. A driver requires a minimum amount of responsiveness and wants a salesperson to get to the point.
  2. An expressive will become enthusiastic as long as the salesperson appeals to his or her vision and goals.
  3. An analytical wants detailed, specific, and accurate information; otherwise the salesperson will lose credibility.
  4. An amiable requires a warm and friendly approach; the salesperson must take time to build rapport to achieve a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship.

An observant and knowledgeable salesperson will be able to key in on a prospect’s behavioral style and tailor his or her sales approach accordingly. Likewise, salespeople themselves will align with one of these behavioral styles. An understanding of self is as important as an understanding of others.

Adapting to Your Customer

Adaptability is the behavioral dimension that comes into play when salespeople are dealing with others, as they must adapt to each prospect’s style and potentially overcome their own styles while doing so. The Platinum Rule of “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them” takes into account that not everyone wants to be treated the same way. It should be a guidepost for adjusting the sales approach to match a customer’s behavioral style.

Becoming adaptable is a learnable skill. Adaptability is based on:

*Adjusting one’s image.

*Targeting presentations to meet others’ needs.

*Possessing competence.

*Maintaining a willingness to receive feedback.

There are specific adaptability strategies for addressing each of the behavioral types. Additionally, the market now comprises four distinct generations:

  1. Civics (or the “greatest generation”).
  2. Boomers.
  3. Gen Xers.
  4. Millennials.

Each of these generational groups has specific values, behaviors, and communication preferences that salespeople need to be aware of and adapt to.

Understanding Customers’ Needs

Because selling value is based on understanding a customer’s wants and needs, a customer needs analysis should be performed for each sales effort. The goals of this analysis are to:

*Win prospects over early.

*Focus on needs and desires.

*See things from the prospect’s perspective.

*Establish trust.

*Gain high-quality input so as to make the best recommendation.

Listening is one of the best methods to achieve an understanding of customer needs. Taking notes is also extremely important. Whether the prospect is an individual or a large group, the overall objective is to gain information and knowledge that will lead to a proposed solution that best meets the prospects’ wants and needs.

Presenting Your Value Proposition

Communicating needs-based benefits is the primary way to create value in the prospect’s mind. Needs-based benefits are benefits that match the customers’ definitions of value and meet their needs at the current time.

Presentations that communicate value should be:

*Based on input derived from prospects’ key decision makers.

*Presented to senior executives and the right key stakeholders.

*Inclusive of specific, targeted value points and tied to the prospect’s senior management philosophy.

*Fresh, well organized, and relevant.

*Interactive and engaging.

Third-party references and testimonials inspire confidence and are excellent ways to communicate value to clients and prospects. Inside influencers (trusted individuals from outside the organization) are very useful in testing and confirming the value of a proposed solution and can help a salesperson refine a presentation.

Additionally, any references to the salesperson’s team and company should be contexted as “we” rather than “them;” each presentation should be unique; and any presentation should seek to inspire trust and ensure the salesperson has the prospect’s best interests in mind.

BLUEPRINT FOR SALES SUCCESS

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Goal Setting and Achievement

Actionable, defined goals provide the framework for success. Writing goals down and committing to a time frame dramatically increases the odds of achieving them. As individuals go about setting goals, they should address each of the following eight categories to help ensure life balance:

1. Career goals: It is important to avoid career complacency.

2. Education and personal development goals: New skills and continued education improve performance.

3. Family goals: A secure and balanced family life is usually the best and strongest support system.

4. Financial goals: Even just a small amount of planning and discipline can ease financial concerns.

5. Physical health and fitness goals: Good health leads to greater energy and happiness.

6. Social, hobby, and extra-curricular goals: These offer balance as well as the chance for increased socialization, which is always important in sales.

7. Spiritual goals: Spirituality is a personal commitment to greater meaning in life.

8. Community: Giving back to one’s community contributes to a successful and significant life; a person should always make the time and find the resources to give.

The next step in goal setting is to evaluate and rate each category in terms of current state and desired state. Based on this process, an individual can then develop tactical plans for improvement (including a defined time frame) within each category.

Even with goals firmly in place, habits are what drive day-to-day behavior. The following three steps will help eliminate bad habits that can undermine goal achievement and develop good habits that will support success. Individuals should write down the:

  1. Habit to be changed.
  2. New habit that will replace the old habit, the expected results from the change, and a detailed tactical approach for developing the new habit.
  3. Date to begin the change and end date for internalizing the new habit.

Managing Yourself and Your Market

Good time management is foundational to effective selling. Most successful salespeople have the ability to get more done in a specific amount of time than do others. Good time management is a skill anyone can learn and improve upon.

Preparation is vital to good time management. Sales professionals who want to improve their preparation abilities should:

*Establish a time and place for planning activities.

*Invest time and effort in prospecting.

*Carefully plan each day.

*Include call counts in daily plans, including specifics on who to call upon.

*Extend plans to cover weeks, months, and years.

*Carefully consider the appropriate mode of contact for each prospect and client.

Most importantly, individuals should avoid distractions and stay focused on the present.

Like time management, creativity and imagination are also part of self-management. Thinking big, avoiding complacency and a self-limiting attitude, and looking for opportunities to offer innovative solutions are behaviors that set high-performing salespeople apart from the crowd.

Strong communication skills are essential to successful selling. The critical aspects of communication that directly impact the sales function are quality, timeliness, frequency, and medium.

Managing the market is essentially about attracting and retaining customers. U.S. Learning’s Market Share Model identifies four market aspects that affect a sales professional’s market share:

  1. Market expansion.
  2. Market contraction.
  3. Front door (acquiring customers).
  4. Back door (losing customers).

Of the four, acquiring customers and losing customers are the two aspects over which salespeople have control. Understanding and communicating value, performing stellar service, staying informed, and keeping in close touch with customers are ways to attract and keep prospects, and thereby increase market share.

How to Build a Loyal Following

It is much more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Also, loyal customers often bring new customers into the business. Improving customer loyalty should be every salesperson’s goal. Creating value for customers is the key to increasing loyalty.

The Loyalty Ladder is a six-step framework for customer loyalty, with sales contacts represented as:

  1. Suspects (potential customers).
  2. Prospects (likely customers).
  3. Customers (people who have bought from the company).
  4. Clients (repeat customers).
  5. Advocates (clients who also champion the company).
  6. Confidants (clients with whom the company and salesperson have developed a special, mutual relationship).

The goal is to move people from the bottom to the top portion of the ladder. Customer-centric, relationship-focused selling achieves this.