Been reading several b2b sales books and articles on the future of b2b sales success. While there are many uncertainties regarding the future and the role of the b2b sales person, one thing is for certain.
You will need to master the consultative selling approach and methods.
I believe there are three critical factors involved in making the shift or change for a traditional model of selling to the consultative model of selling.
The three critical factors are…
- Questioning and Listening
I know you hear me preaching this every week. The questioning model of b2b selling is the competency for the future. Sales presentations take a back seat to learning how to ask questions properly. The next point is to actually listen to what is being said. You would think this is a normal thing for sales people – not so in many cases. Just last week while traveling with a sales manager and a sales person, neither one were listening to the information being provided by a key executive within a major account. Opportunities and one major issue were openly shared by the executive and it appeared the information went into one ear and out the other ear. I asked afterwards and it was true – they had not listened to the responses or statements made by the customer. Their account was at risk and they ignored the call for help. This is a sad truth – sales people need to learn how to listen intently and understand the strategic ramifications of all situations.
- Focus is on the Customer
Traditional sales people have to unlearn what has worked for them during their lifetime – product knowledge is a focal point of their “sales” training. Therefore, they normally are talking only about their products or services along with all the benefits and other details. Again, sad yet true. Here is a new reality – the customer is tried of being sold. They are looking for business advisers and partners who understand their situation completely and are looking for ways to help the customer grow their business. Remember the internet is now the source of information for your customers, in fact, most now know more about your products and the competitors products then you do. Your focus has to be on the customer and their business rather than your products.
- Return on Investment
This is what closes the loop on sales success and long term retention of your accounts. The ability to accurately show your customer how you met or exceeded your projected expectations indicates you are a business person who sells. Business people make decisions based upon their ability to make a favorable return on all their investment decisions. One of the critical flaws for over 85% of b2b sales people is the lack of tracking their customer’s results. The tracking of performance ratios allows you to visit the management team at either an annual or semi annual review. This activity shows the customer exactly what they have received from their partnership with you. I know of several sales people who grew their sales during the recessionary period because their customers understood the true value of doing business with them. There was no doubt since it had been agreed to or accepted by the management team during performance reviews. Therefore these sales people were indispensable to their customers.
There you have the three critical factors for your future success in b2b sales. Take some time to reflect upon how you are currently conducting your b2b sales efforts. Examine how well you are moving to the consultative model of b2b sales and away from the old school traditional model of selling.