If you’re looking to improve your sales process — look no further than the “2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report“. Buyers want things to be easy. So easy, in fact, that 89 percent of survey respondents said that they chose vendors that made a return on investment easier to prove or that could be easily justified with a business case. They also preferred speed over price — with 80 percent of buyers citing deployment and ease of use as “very important.”
Your customers want to understand how to use your product — not sit through a pitch and wonder if it’ll actually fit their needs. Selling is less about explaining why buyers should buy and more about showing how an easy-to-use product or service will help them.
Ditch the dead-end “why” part of the conversation and focus on the “how”. Instead, tell buyers how to use the product and how it will address their needs. They don’t want to hear about how great your business is; they want a tailored proposal that clearly demonstrates how your product solves their problems.
Only after they understand exactly how they’ll benefit do they become interested in why they should choose you over your competitors.
You can’t walk in with a cookie-cutter presentation about how your product works and expect to rake in the dough. To improve your sales process, you need to understand what makes your buyer tick. You just need to do is get them talking. Take the time to learn how they define success and ask them to elaborate on any problems they’re facing.
In his lectures at Harvard Business School, former HubSpot Chief Revenue Officer Mark Roberge finds that most of his students create a sales process by listing out features and asking for signatures. Those students assume they know better than their prospects — but they, like real-life salespeople, never do. Roberge discovered that empathy — not knowledge — is the key to starting meaningful conversations that lead to more closed deals.
While this isn’t a new concept — salespeople still struggle to stop talking and listen. Great salespeople are collaborators. They talk through problems with their prospects and don’t propose solutions unless they have good reason to do so.
Peter Bohlin, world-famous architect for clients like Steve Jobs, is a master salesperson. Speaking about his process, he once told the New York Times, “When I look back, it’s hard to remember who had what thought when.” Despite his impressive credentials, Bohlin doesn’t tell his clients what to do; he listens and collaborates to create solutions to the problems that plague them most.
Think like a business owner, not a salesperson. Your prospects deal with salespeople all the time — They rarely deal with people who speak as if they are responsible for the future of the company. Make the prospect’s success or failure your own. Paired with industry- and business-specific knowledge to make the conversation sincere, this mindset shift provides a solid foundation for conversations to come.
Market knowledge alone isn’t enough to have meaningful sales talks, but if you don’t know what the market is doing, your prospect won’t value your opinions. Stay updated on the latest trends by reading thought leadership pieces and subscribing to industry publications. Understand how those market shifts impact your prospect’s business, and be prepared to talk about them.
Before you promise the world, make sure you know the limits of your company’s capabilities. Nothing kills a potentially lucrative relationship like inability to deliver on an agreement. Read the latest product sheets, take notes in meetings, and go into every conversation confident in your offer.
If you weren’t selling your current product or service, what would you be selling? Which industries fascinate you? Leverage that natural interest to make your conversations more meaningful. Pursue contacts within industries you like, and keep tabs on places where your products and hobbies intersect. When you find opportunities to sell to people in those niches, more meaningful conversations will occur if you can prove your interest in the business.
Everyone gets lucky sometimes, but you can’t let luck become the foundation of your new relationships. Promise only what you can deliver, and keep the promises you make. Trust develops slowly over time, but it takes only moments to shatter forever.
Ultimately, to polish your sales process, you need to have better conversations with your prospects that deepen the bonds between those who have them. Great salespeople understand that the most profitable deals don’t come from slam-dunk pitches, but from hard work and constant nurturing.
Matt Sunshine is a managing partner for The Center for Sales Strategy and LeadG2, a company that specializes in improving sales performance and lead generation. Previously, Matt also worked as the center’s executive vice president and a senior consultant. Matt has more than 20 years of experience in sales and media relations. Follow him on Twitter.