I have been in sales for too long to understand that sales are not just about targets, but how they impact your brand directly. Your sales representatives are your direct messengers/advocates. Which is why, being curious and asking “why” should be more valuable than the tried and tested tactics. David Priemer’s “Sell the Way You Buy” dives into the details about how sales calls and objection handling can be twisted to cater to how exactly you would be convinced to buy something yourself.
He says that the better approach is harmonizing the key principles of science, empathy and execution. Science of what works and what wouldn’t; empathy with the customer / client we are dealing with, so we can offer something that fits their needs, and executing it with a tone that reflects our intent to help. Let me dive into the current situation before I mention what stood out for me as solutions.
As per David, the buyers have become more independent – thanks to the wide range of information channels available today. But are all the buyers satisfied with what they buy, because they are aware now? No, Gartner found out that 60% software buyers regret their purchases, and 54% buyers regret multiple purchases. They also found out that 75% of B2B buyers prefer a rep-free sales experience. Is there a co-relation? Possibly.
Salespeople often come across as deceiving. As David has correctly mentioned in his book, they can be as good people and friends as anyone, but once they start selling, they become someone who just wants to achieve their targets. It might be coming out from a place where evidently salespeople are all about numbers. This is where it looks like they lack empathy. Here, Sell the Way You Buy hits a chord. We Business Development Reps and Sales Reps are not devoid of empathy, but we get so caught up in the tactic, that the “How” we execute our tactics is seldom our biggest concern.
Now, let’s look at how ideally a customer / client makes a decision. Lucidchart states five basic steps for a successful buying decision – problem recognition, information search, alternatives evaluation, purchase decision and post-purchase evaluation. A salesperson can help you get through minimum three out of these.
What can you do?
Of course, we all know there’s no one recipe that’s the best. As David concluded the book, he mentioned that there are thousands of lasagne recipes and one might consider factors like – ingredients available, time it’d take to cook, viewer ratings about the recipe and so much more. So, there’s no one recipe, but we can look at some core solutions that might benefit us to pitch better.
Experience is the product: Take for example the CRM that you use. Let’s say that you have issues dealing with it, would you consider continuing to use it further or you will start looking at your options and explore which other CRM can help you better? For customers, more than the price, experience stands out. So, as BDRs or Sales Reps, we need emphasise on the experience of using your services, rather than only focusing on what range of services you offer.
Leading with what you believe in: Conviction is key. Ever went to buy an “amazing” looking phone, and the seller somehow was not speaking about it with passion, he rather gave you a “better” option and spoke about it with conviction. And you left the shop with their suggested device, furthermore, you suggested it to you family and friends. Why? Because you could hear that they knew what they were speaking about, and you could recognise the belief in their voice. This is what we as salespeople should capture on. Believing in what you are selling not only builds confidence in the product, but the customers appreciate that they are speaking to someone who knows what they are doing.
Not spending much time losing: As a salesperson, its crucial to follow up and give the client their time to respond. But there’s also some good in recognising when a client is not showing positive interest, responsiveness, buying signals or the interest in correspondence. Why? Because the time we spent on someone who is not interested, is equal to spending time losing. That does not mean we have to disregard customers if they don’t show interest, rather we can go slow. But focus on who is responding to us and winning them.
Simple objection-handling model: When a customer throws a curve ball/objection at us, or what is stopping them from going forward, there is one solution – Listen and qualify to identify the main issue, acknowledge and soften it by showing empathy, and finally, respond with your best approach. This approach can be tactics – certain words or questions that can help you manoeuvre the objection, aligned with the tone and strategy of the response. It’s crucial to understand what result they are expecting while posing the objection. This helps model is an outline of a strategy that can get us the win.
Yes, the goal is to win, but not by shooting in the dark. We want to be consciously choosing solution offering, at all times. Afterall, we are not just salespeople, we are the direct advocates of our company.