3 Important Shifts Affecting the Salesperson and the Selling Process
This post was contributed by Leslie Groene, Groene Consulting, and instructor of several new online Sales Courses available in Printing Industries of America’s Integrated Learning Center.
It’s no secret that the role of a salesperson has changed. The Internet provides your customers with an infinite number of options making it impossible to compete on price alone. Customers are 57% through their buying process before they seek engagement with suppliers. Your customers expect more; to seal the deal, they want top-notch customer service and value-added benefits.
Shift 1: Salesperson to Consultant
You want your sales team to grow your existing customer base, acquire new ones, and/or win back those customers you may have lost. To do this, salespeople must build relationships and become a solutions provider, asking, “How can I become a part of their team as a consultant? How can I give them more leverage and success with their clients?”
The sad truth is, there’s a lot of poor customer service out there. What did you do the last time you had a negative experience with a company? Many salespeople just aren’t aware of how their attitudes affect customers. Here’s a look at how customers respond to poor service from sales consultant, Leslie Groene:
- 96% of unhappy customers do not complain, they just stop doing business with you.
- 91% of those who don't complain will share the negative story with at least 9 other people, 13% will tell more than 20 other people about their experience.
- The average unhappy customer will remember the incident for 23 years.
- The happy customer will talk about the pleasant experience for 18 months.
- For every complaint heard, the average company has 25 other customers with the same problem.
Like a consultant, salespeople need to focus on improving their client’s business performance, which means they need to have the understanding and have experience to help their clients solve problems. They’re not selling a product or service; instead they’re selling value.
Shift 2: Price-driven to Value Driven
If you’ve ever lost a sale because a customer said, “Your prices are too high,” it’s time to shift your strategy to adding value and not focusing on a low bid.
Start by building a relationship with your customer. This is not like flipping a switch. Like any relationship, it needs to be cultivated and nourished. Here are the four steps to developing a healthy, profitable relationship with your clients:
- Develop trust (40%)—Be consistent and follow through
- Identify their true needs and wants (30%)—How can you help their business grow
- Present a solution (20%)—Strategically engage their needs and wants
- Confirmation (10%)—Close the sale, gauge relationship, and proceed to next step
After you’ve developed this relationship, you’re more prepared to handle objections. You must anticipate and immediately respond to objections before they escalate into a “No.” The stronger the relationship, the less likely cost will become an issue.
Shift 3: Printer to Marketing Service Provider
With end-to-end services now available in many print operations, there is an amazing opportunity to up sell and cross sell. Up selling is convincing a client to purchase a higher quality or quantity, and cross selling is encouraging a committed buyer to purchase complementary services, like mailing, personalization, etc.
The bottom line, however, is that as their consultant, you are offering your clients these suggestions based on your desire to help their company succeed. If it seems like a sales pitch, there’s a high likelihood they’ll run in the other direction (albeit toward your competitors)!
To avoid the used-car-salesman effect, be prepared.
- Make sure you've built a range of products that complement each other
- Know how to present the new idea/solution
- Ask for the opportunity to pitch your ideas
- Have a plan for your approach and objectives
- Be ready for the dreaded objections!
Once you’ve taken the time to understand your client’s needs, recognize and respond to objections, and recommend additional services and products that are important to the success of their business, you’re on your way to selling more print.
If you want to learn more about refining your sales, check out the expanding series of Web-based courses from Leslie Groene, Groene Consulting, on Printing Industries of America’s Integrated Learning Center. The latest courses, “The Keys to Consultative Selling,” “Escaping the Price Driven Sale,” and “Cross Selling and Up Selling,” will give you more insights into these three important shifts. When you’re ready to take one, please register or log in.