“Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business.“ – Mark Sanborn
The world of selling is changing rapidly and is a very different animal to years gone by. The economy is in the worst state it has been in ages and we’ve all found that our prospects have made us work harder for our sales.
It’s a buyers’ market like never before. The modern day buyer is an educated, sales savvy, shrewd business professional who demands more and expects to pay less. They are less tolerant of mediocre service and substandard products and are intimately aware of their options, which are endless.
However, in spite of all of the challenges that today’s sales people face when dealing with the modern-day buyer, there are aspects of today’s sales people that the modern buyer looks for. The 2008 Wharton Customer Dissatisfaction Study reports that there is an ‘Ideal Sales Person’ the modern buyer seeks to work with. This modern sales person can be summed up by four distinct traits:
- An Engager – The modern buyer wants to work with a sales person who is engaging and will go out of his or her way to “help” the customer. This sales professional has a visible and sincere interest in the needs and desires of the customer. They are constantly aware of the need to build trust and rapport.
- An Educator – The study found that customers want a sales person who is an expert in everything there is to know about the product, service and the company. The buyer also wants to deal with a sales person who can educate them. They don’t expect you to have just good “product” knowledge. They also expect you to possess thorough “market” knowledge.
- An Expeditor – This is the sales person who is sensitive to the customer’s time and gets things done quickly and correctly the first time. In short, they are a person of action and they ensure that their company’s sales and service processes work efficiently.
- Authentic – Customers want to deal with a likable sales person who is “real”, someone who is trustworthy, genuine and sincere.
When looking at the above four traits, you can see that they all fall under one general category – Education.
The modern buyer wants to deal with sales people who are experts in their field. None of the other qualities are possible if the sales person is not a bona fide expert. For instance, it is impossible for the sales person to be a true engager if the sales person is not totally familiar and comfortable with all of the information concerning their products and services. This is an area where the majority of retailers fail dismally, as they mostly employ people who have limited training and knowledge about what they’re selling.
Education is the key
You should constantly be working on how can you educate your prospective customers to tell them something that they don’t know. How can you continually educate your prospects throughout the sales process and even in-between contacts? An educated prospect becomes an educated customer.
Make the customers way your way
Understand how your prospect absorbs information, what their learning style is, whether they think in pictures or sounds, whether they like the detail or big picture. And then tailor your approach to fit with what their preferences are. Make it fun and easy to do business with you.
Become more than just a sales person
You need to become a trusted authority on your service, product and market. You must become a trusted advisor and confidante to your prospect. Do more than what your prospect would expect from a ‘normal sales person’. Offer advice, send them useful information and educate them. Position yourself as a “partner” rather than a “supplier”.
Educate yourself and your team; educate your prospects and customers, and I assure you that your business and market share will grow.
And a final point. To all those who tend to over-complicate the sales process or even worse, those who frequently utter the terminally dis-empowering words “I’m not a sales person”, I have good news. Review all the sales strategies and behaviours above and consider one thing, all the sales strengths required are mostly attitudinal and not hard skills. Nothing that I list above is beyond you.
“If the rate of change outside your organisation is greater than the rate of change inside your organisation, then the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch
John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.
Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.
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