Improve Sales by No Longer Selling Solutions
|Tags:||sales process, sales solutions, mindset, training|
The most difficult thing about B2B in today's market place is that customers do not need sales representatives like they did before. The traditional sales representative was taught to sell solutions to a customer's problems.
The idea is to find what the customer needs and sell them a product or service that meets that need. This worked for many years because customers did not always know how to solve the problems found in the company, even if they did know what those company problems were at the time.
A recent study by the CEB (Corporate Executive Board) surveyed more than 1,900 customers to find out their purchasing behavior as it pertained to B2B. This survey gave some surprising insights into why solution selling is no longer working.
According to this survey, and the results changed little between industries, 60 percent of the purchasing decision was already made by the customer before they made contact with a sales representative.
The most proficient sales representative over the last 5 years have recognized this trend and began adapting their sales technique. By abandoning the old philosophy of selling, these superior sales reps have taken a more direct approach. These representatives began doing more homework on the company and now they:
- Review prospective clients using a different criteria than traditional reps utilize. They look for a company that is in flux and not ones that have a clear path, as well as know what they want.
- These superior reps look for a different type of stakeholder, preferring skeptical agents over the old informants that are friendly.
- The reps coach the skeptical agents on how to buy their products, instead of asking them a lot of questions about their purchasing procedures.
By making these changes in their sales technique, these reps have started selling more effectively because they started selling differently. Any sales manager must take a closer look at how they are training their sales representatives, because solution selling is not working.
A recent article in the Financial Post reviewed a recent customer loyalty study. That study showed many factors that differ from the old philosophy of selling:
- 53% of the 5,000 businesses surveyed stated that sales experience was the biggest loyalty driver.
- Service delivery, perspective and product being sold was a loyalty driver for only 19% of those businesses.
- Only 19% of those businesses believed that the product brand and company drove their loyalty to that sales representative.
- Price compared to product value was the most important loyalty driver to only 9% of these business customers.
This article explained that most business customers were rewarding the sales representatives that gave them more of a sales experience, but included the sales rep offering a valuable and unique market perspective and educating the business customers on new market trends, as well as market outcomes.
The top sales reps have radically changed the traditional thought when it comes to selling to clients. By changing the old methods, these reps have began engaging the customer by telling them something they did not already know and educating them on that industries market.
In order to discover how these reps are radically changing the way sales are being conducted, you have to turn to three different CEB studies.
One CEB study surveyed sales reps concerning how they prioritized prospective clients, engaged those clients and began the sales process. The second study surveyed different company's buying teams, purchasing procedures and what influences their purchasing decision.
The last study surveyed individual purchasers and requested information on how they made complex buying decisions.
The studies revealed that the superior sales representatives were looking at the same thing and changing their selling methods accordingly. In order to profit in this competitive sales market, sales managers are going to have to spend a lot of time learning this new method of selling, then institute these techniques into their sales training.
Lewis Edward is one of the owners of TheOfficeProviders. He is a real estate investor with many interests in other sectors. Lewis researches and contributes various written features for TheOfficeProviders in areas regarding real estate, including office space for rent and serviced offices, and general business and economy matters. Lewis is experienced in the inner workings of both the traditional and flexible workspace industries and has developed close links with various figures in real estate circles, as well other circles.