Ian stressed to me that it’s not always about how “shiny” your product is. In fact, it’s rarely ever about visual appeal or “polish” — most often, your customers aren’t worried about whether your product is the freshest new offering on the market.
What customers are worried about is the problem you are solving. For a sales professional, it’s vital to be able to translate product knowledge into the context of real business solutions.
Many times, your potential client has already done the research into your product category. Often, the product you’re selling is something they already have — or something they think they already have. It’s a sales rep’s job to differentiate your offering as the only or the best product to offer a solution to the client’s problem.
When you work with an educated buyer – someone who has really done their research on your area– you will sometimes find yourself having to change their perceptions or understanding of things. What Ian suggested to me — instead of just saying “you’re wrong” — is asking your client a few key questions.
Ian thinks that it’s best to lead with an open-ended question, such as — “What do you know about our offering?” Questions like this allow you to gain insight into how the client is thinking, and where they’re coming from — specifically in relation to your product. Get the client to talk first, and guide them to talk about what’s agitating them.
Collaborate with the client. A good rep is able to pepper their sales conversations with questions, instead of just unloading facts and figures on their client (and you should know your facts and figures!).
By asking your client questions, you are generating what I call “traction.” The questions that you ask — and the collaboration process — should inspire either skepticism or curiosity in your potential client. If your client remains neutral, there is no movement in your negotiation — so it won’t be going anywhere, good or bad.
It’s vital to the development of an opportunity that you secure the second phone call. If you can generate traction with your initial pitch, you are one step closer to getting that follow-up phone call.
A side note — this is why it is important to coach your reps on how to make good calls. Don’t just do 2 minutes of prep. Instead, spend 30 minutes or more going over a phone call with a rep after it’s happened, going over what could have been done differently, and what was done well. You can even make calls with your reps. In this way, you enhance the probability of success on the next call – while enhancing key skill areas.
Your pitch or “talk track” should demonstrate how your product solves a problem, not just what your product is. Collaborating with customers is an essential step in convincing them of your product’s value. Ask questions. Traction is vital — without it, your deal is stagnant.
- How often do your reps secure that critical second phone call? Can you be doing more to help them get better at that skill?
- Do you ask your clients questions during a pitch? Or is it all rote recitation?
- Are your reps overly-focused on technical product knowledge? Or do they remember to always incorporate business solutions?