Modern, professional B2B salespeople have as much in common with Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross as modern marketers have with get-rich-quick internet marketers. Yet, there are still those who believe salespeople are pushy, self-oriented, and capable of using the hard sell and high-pressure tactics to win deals, something that hasn’t been true for decades. Here is an update as to what salespeople do for the woefully misinformed.
Share a Valuable View of Their Client’s World
There was a time when salespeople would straight pitch their prospective clients, starting by sharing what makes their company unique, their experience with the company, asking the client “what’s keeping them up at night” as a way to pitch their product, service, or solution. While there are still salespeople whose sales approach hasn’t changed to keep up with the time, it is less common all the time, with a form of insight selling replacing that approach.
The modern, B2B salesperson engaged in consultative sales shares a valuable view of their client’s world. They use their business acumen and situational knowledge to provide their perspective and the context for a conversation about why and how their prospective clients might change what they are doing to improve or transform their results.
The evolution of sales roles points to increased value creation. Sense-making is now the new discovery, with salespeople helping clients discover something about themselves and their company.
Guide the Client in Exploring Change
Because salespeople have more experience than their clients when it comes to what they sell, they serve the role of guiding their prospective clients in exploring change. Imagine a client who buys something once, say, every five years. The sales rep sells what the client buys every day, helping dozens of clients, giving them a better understanding of what’s possible, and why some choices will be more effective than others when it comes to improving results.
When we are at our best, we share what other companies do, what works, what doesn’t work, and what choices lead to success in producing better outcomes. At one time, hiring for sales roles might start with the command, “Hire closers.” Now, success comes from “openers,” people who can create opportunities. Salespeople don’t win deals at the end of the sales conversation, they win early in the process, especially if they create the opportunity.
Lead the Client’s Buying Process
There are several conversations clients need to have, and commitments they need to make. Even when a company has a professional purchasing department and process, avoiding these conversations and skipping the commitments harms their ability to make the right decisions.
The modern salesperson works to lead the client through the process, ensuring they have the right conversation—and that they include the people who are going to be impacted by any decision to change. By leading the process, they create value by influencing the decision-making process in ways that benefit their clients.
Help Them Make Smart Investments
When a client decides to spend money, they risk investing in solutions that might not produce the maximum result or help them with the strategic outcomes they need. Because “price” is always a factor in a decision to buy one solution or another, a consultative salesperson helps their clients make smart decisions.
Much of the time, a lower price means higher overall costs for the client. One of the mistakes clients make is to underinvest in the results they want. A good partner will help their clients understand the concessions the clients are making, the risks to their results, and the higher costs they incur by not paying a little more. Smart investments consider cost—in addition to the price.
Solve the Client’s Problems
Were you to try to answer the question, “what do salespeople do,” an accurate answer would have to include solving the client’s problems, including problems of which the contacts were unaware before sharing their time with a salesperson.
At its very essence, what salespeople do now—and have for a very long time—Is help their clients solve their problems. A good part of effective selling is working to identify the root cause of the client’s problem, exploring possible approaches to removing the problem, and working to develop a solution.
In larger, complex sales, there is no value in sharing your solution without spending time—sometimes, much of the time—working on the right view of the problem, as well as a solution that is certain to solve the problem.
Improving the Client’s Results
When a salesperson sells their solution, the primary beneficiary is the client who experiences the better results they need. By helping their clients improve their results, the salesperson is helping the client create a better future.
The reason people meet with salespeople is that they need help solving problems, removing challenges, and capitalizing on opportunities to improve. They need to buy products and services and solutions for their business. They need advice to help them make the right decisions about improving their results. The trend in B2B sales is towards greater value creation and an increasingly consultative approach.
The idea that selling is something a salesperson does to someone, not for someone and with someone, is out-dated. The idea that a B2B salesperson’s compensation would cause them to treat their client poorly is to be woefully misinformed about how selling now works in a world with unlimited options and alternatives and a glut of companies trying to gain their business.
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Filed under: Sales