Are your sales initiatives making progress, and are your current projects moving forward? Or are you stuck and can’t figure out why?
If you find yourself in the latter category, the solution may be a lot easier than you think.
Sales efforts stall out for a variety of reasons, ranging from not having a need for the product, not liking the sales rep, not being able to get all important parties on board, among several other reasons.
However, if you want to increase your odds, ask yourself these 3 questions and ensure your sales communications and meetings also follow these themes:
1. What is my customer or prospect’s agenda?
So many sales people make the mistake of starting with the mindset of having to sell the customer their product or service, and sell it to them now. Why wouldn’t they? After all, you need to hit your quota, right?
Even if your product or service fits into a customer’s need, that doesn’t necessarily mean it does right now.
Try this: instead of walking into your next 10 sales meetings with the mindset of selling your customer what you have, take the mindset of finding out what their initiatives are, what problems they’re trying to fix in their business, and what the time frame looks like for them.
2. How can I align my strategy to theirs?
Your answer may still be your product or service, especially if you are in a business structure where you only carry one product or service. But you’ll at least have a better idea of how it may need to look for your prospect to move forward with you.
If you sell a portfolio of products, really listening to your customer, specifically the pain points they may be encounter with their current vendor or product offering, will be highly beneficial.
In today’s world, especially in big business, most deals involve multiple decision makers within highly complex organizations. Often times, that means projects and budgets are mapped out well in advance, sometimes by several years.
For sales people, this means the sales cycle can be very, very long for many products and technologies. Always longer than your company wants to see too, by the way. So the best way to shorten this cycle as much as possible is to get a solid understanding of what the customer’s process, projects, timelines, and key players look like, and align your initiatives to what they’re already doing.
The other way around will not be as successful. I can 100% guarantee you of that.
3. What does a successful relationship look like to them?
Have you ever asked your customer what they expect of you, and how you can be a great partner to them? It may sound like a pretty elementary question to ask, and because of that, most people don’t ask it.
Most people assume they know what the customer wants. Most are probably incorrect.
During your next meeting with your top customer, say something like, “Mary, I want to make sure that me and my company are great partners to you and your company. May I ask you how we’re doing so far, and what thoughts you have on how we can be a better partner to you?”
Again, it sounds simple, but I bet not many people have asked your customer that question lately. And if your competitor hasn’t, you’ve already got a leg up.
What are your best strategies for aligning your message to your customer’s agenda? Feel free to comment below.
Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.