AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, MOST SALESPEOPLE STILL DON’T GET IT. SELLING POWER COMES FROM LOOSENING YOU GRIP AND PLAYING TO CONSUMERS’ STRENGTHS, NOT THEIR VULNERABILITIES. COMMUNICATE, DON’T INFURIATE! SOME WORDS OF WISDOM FROM TROY HAZARD.
The world is changing. People are changing. It’s the law of evolution, really. It’s how the universe works. So why is it then that so many sales people are slaves to a bygone era?
Everyday you see salespeople stuck in a universal vortex, a black hole in time that they just can’t seem to escape. They keep defaulting to the old golden sales rules; you know the ones: “be sure to follow the seven steps to a sale”, or “only ask yes/no questions so you can drill through objections until the customer can’t POSSIBLY say no”. And then there was the old faithful, “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Still today you are faced with sales people looking to beat you into submission, whip out the pen and paper and say the famous line, “Press hard, three copies, and the last one is yours.”
And their sales managers still keep beating the message into them that this process still works… Right? Yeah riiiiiggghhhttt!
Welcome to 2007. Life is different. In fact, it’s been different for decades.
Today’s consumers are a new breed of animal, and yes, you too are one of them. You are clear on what you want and don’t want, what you like and dislike, and in a new-age sales environment you’re not afraid to speak up and let people know what’s on your mind. You know that after years of sales repression that you can be in control. And that’s just what modern-day consumers want.Control.
In fact, they want much more than control; they want it all! In modern day business they know that if they ask for it, they can get it. More importantly, they know that if it’s offered it makes it easier for them to decide when and where they should get what they want. Modern-day consumers are tough, prepared, confident, demanding and, if you don’t show them the love, they are transient.
Now the argument here from sales people all over the world is, “Yes, I take your point, but my business is different. You don’t understand our category. My customers are not the same as yours. I need to approach them differently.”
Well, united sales sharks of the world, I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not different for you. Since the turn of the millennium we’ve been conducting a fair amount of street-smart research around the world, which has revealed that consumers are seeking some very key things in a transaction – any transaction.
Consumers everywhere want good service. That’s a given. And don’t be confused – service is about being helpful, for my benefit as a consumer, not yours. By all means push products or services onto me, simply give me the information you feel I am seeking.
They want a quality product. If it’s not quality they will simply return it and expect a refund or replacement, all the while knowing that they are not likely to return.
They want to trust that a brand will do what it says it is going to do for them and that it will keep its promises. With a relationship comes trust, with trust comes a bond, and with a bond comes their belief in the things you are telling them. That creates an easier path to make a sale.
They want the transaction to be easy. Today’s consumers are time-poor and become easily frustrated when faced with transactions that consume their time unnecessarily.
Most of all, they want value. Contrary to popular belief, value does not mean getting the product or service cheaper. It’s not about money – if the core drivers of service, quality, relationship and ease are present in the transaction, then the consumer will have the perception of value. It’s that simple. The most important rule of all is that they want to be told about all of these things, not sold, as this allows them to retain the control of the transaction they seek. And when you think about it, this rule shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Since you were born, you’ve never liked life when you don’t have control over it, and you still don’t. At the end of the day selling is not hard. Sales people make it hard for themselves. Get real, and tell me your story.
Five Key Tips to Tell me, not Sell me
Talk To me, not AT me
As sales people, it is easy to fall into the trap of the repetition or ‘formlua’ of our presentations. As a result, we cut corners in the language we use. Acronyms, idioms and industry jargon slide easily and quickly off your tongue and fly right past your consumer just as quickly. Give me your message in language I can understand and would like to receive it in, rather than the way you might like to deliver it.
Make it about ME
As a consumer, I really don’t care so much about you or how smart you are. I’m more concerned about what you are going to do for me. So first up, assess my unique needs as an individual, then work quickly to figure out how you can use that information to your advantage, and wind that into your story as you tell me about what you can do for me. This way it will be much easier to make the entire conversation about me. The key to this process is in the data you gather from me and the way in which you store and use that data, both on the day and in the future.
Make it real
Give me the story as if you would deliver it to your mates at a BBQ. I want to know you are real and that you are real about how you want to connect with me. That’s key to building a relationship.
Give me a promise
In days gone by we used to call this a ‘unique selling proposition’. In the current business environment it’s sometimes hard to be so unique, so work on delivering the promises you can keep in the timelines you really believe you can deliver them. Your word should be your bond.
Give me your message with passion
If you don’t believe in your product or service, then how do you expect me to believe you? And believe me, I can tell if you believe. Your excitement and interest as you tell me about your product or service will certainly help to sell me. Troy Hazard is managing director of The Edge Corporate Strategies and Global President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, the premier, peer-to-peer global community, network and resource for entrepreneurs.
Wondering how to choose a software solution to support your sales and customer relationship management activities? Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a hot topic and many vendors have delivered new solutions or have rebranded their existing solutions as CRM products. Primarily, solutions in the market fall into three categories: sales force automation, hosted CRM and full blown CRM solutions. With each category the cost and complexity increases, but so does the functionality and potential return on investment. Based on the size of your organisation and your goals, this guide provides some market-leading companies and their respective offerings
(LESS THAN 20 USERS):
- 1. ACT! – The market leading sales management tool for years, ACT! provides customer contact management, sales campaign coordination and lead tracking for small teams. Great for departmental use or for small organisations.
2. Goldmine – Has continued the trend of rebranding sales force automation products as CRM. Varying versions provide relationship management, sales management and marketing automation. Its standard version is a direct competitor to ACT!
3. Netsuite – Provides a wide range of on-demand applications, including eCommerce, accounting and CRM. Its CRM offers sales force automation, marketing management, order management and customer portal and management. Compare to Salesforce or Siebel On Demand.
(LESS THAN 100 USERS):
4. Microsoft Dynamics CRM –Provides modules for sales, marketing and customer service. It has been built from the ground up so there is tight integration with the other Microsoft tools, such as Office and Outlook. A bit more expensive than the pure plan on-demand CRM systems, but more flexible.
5. SugarCRM – An open source CRM application designed to be hosted offsite or deployed at a customer’s location. While an open source solution provides greater flexibility and lower cost, most organisations will want to deploy with a SugarCRM partner to ensure full support.
6. Siebel On Demand – Offers sales, marketing, service, and call centre capabilities and has been built on the foundations of the larger Siebel offering. Given the time, cost and complexity of a full Siebel implementation, many organisations consider this a real option.
(OVER 100 USERS):
- 7. Siebel – Siebel is considered one of the “heavy hitters” of the CRM space. While a full fledged implementation can take years and an investment of millions of dollars, the power provided to large organisations can be considerable, especially when coupled with the full Siebel analytics capability.
8. Salesforce – While many place Salesforce in the small-to-medium enterprise market, its full range of CRM offerings and the ability to develop custom applications with its AppExchange marketplace provides a solid platform for the large organisations considering a CRM deployment. And the fact that it’s a hosted offering can make it all that much more appealing.
Jamie Vachon is the founder and Managing Director of Innovant, a technology company focusing on identity management, advanced infrastructure, strategy and custom software development. He is also the founder of Progics, providing leading edge program management tools and technologies. jamie.vachon [at] innovant.com.au