Friday, July 23, 2010

People Buy People - A Sales Mantra

In recent years the sales persons mantra has been "people buy people" which in turn supports the belief that 'it's not about sales but about relationships'.

Clearly this shift from "customer service" to "customer relationship" has transformed selling and the sale process, particularly in business to business sales. But perhaps it is time we questioned some of the behaviours and attitudes that stem from these beliefs.

To some the 'relationship' aspect of the sales-customer relationship is still simply about the lunch-time meeting; dinners (perhaps on expenses) and all that goes with the notion of wooing a potential client or prospect.

In some senses it became a game that both parties knew they were playing... the subtext of the relationship being to make a sale by convincing, coercing and closing.

Today's sales professional plays the outer game of providing solutions and hence the dialogue comes from a different place.

The assumption can still be however that 'people buy people', and deals are closed on the basis of whether the client 'likes' or 'gets on with' the salesperson.

This is perhaps an erroneous assumption...

OF course people are more likely to meet and do business with someone they like BUT if that person cannot meet the values expectations of the client then there will be no deal.

The professional sales relationship is not only about being 'a nice guy' but about the qualities and values that can be promoted and delivered.

The current economic downturn creates some exciting possibilities for sales teams (there's loads of pain out there!) and these opportunities will come to those who can:-

Promote, build and develop relationships
Inspire trust and create meaningful dialogue
Promote and act upon the core values of their service and/or product
Enter into a solutions based discussion with a real intention to help and not necessarily to sell
Bring a value proposition to solve problems and move clients closer to their business goals

And the KEY SKILLS for effective sales people in these interesting times...

To be able to shut up and listen.

Far too many sales people forget that it should be the customer/client who needs to do most of the talking. How can you be open to what is being said if all you are doing is waiting for an opportunity to deliver your pre-prepared sales pitch.

To be able to ask questions.

Finding out about the prospects business, their needs and their aspirations is something many sales folk claim they are able to do. Maybe so, but "finding out" is about effective questioning and that is a skill which often needs to be honed and refined.

To be a source of information.

Sales people are experts in the fields they work within. They often have intelligence about market trends, challenges and developments which will effect their clients directly. Having this information makes them a valuable resource to their clients over and above any benefits their product or service may bring.

In other words...

Foreground the clients needs. dreams, goals and challenges whilst stopping yourself from launching into a feature-benefits pitch about the ready made solution you are wanting to sell.

There is an 'inner game' that needs to be mastered. That is the game of coming to a sales meeting with the genuine intention of understanding a clients business; questioning their needs; uncovering their challenges and providing solutions.

By : Alan_B_Jones

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