More than half (57%) of sales professionals today are missing their quotas.
That’s according to a report by Salesforce, the leading CRM platform. If this rings true for you and your sales team, then morale is probably pretty low. And there are a number of factors you could blame. But the bottom line is that you need to employ smart tactics to elevate your pitching and get you back in the business of hitting targets.
This article is going to explore some of those challenges sales teams are facing today; and why consultative sales is increasingly useful in building meaningful customer relationships and improving results.
Customer buying patterns challenging today’s sales professionals
Once upon a time, sales people had more control. They had a product, they knew its features and benefits, and they could persuade the customer to buy it. It was all about convincing the customer that they needed it.
Today, however, the customer has all the power. The advent of the internet, e-commerce and increased competition has enabled customers to be more choosy. This choosiness allows us to be fickle. In fact, we’ve now become a society of “serial switchers”.
Research from NewVoiceMedia shows that U.S. companies are losing $75 billion a year due to poor customer experiences causing customers to switch to a new provider.
So, what constitutes a good customer experience? According to this research, an overwhelming majority (86%) of respondents said that if they felt they’d made a positive emotional connection with a business representative, they’d be more likely to do business with that company again.
In other words, in an age of digital media, the importance of a personal, human interaction has dramatically increased.
We expect personalised sales experiences. And why shouldn’t we? Our data is out there, being captured by every website we enter. When your competitor is using that data more effectively to understand who their customers are and how better to serve them, why should they stick around with you?
You need to make their interactions with the business meaningful. This is why consultative sales will get your team the wins they need to be back on top.
Why consultative sales is the answer
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling focuses on building a relationship of value and trust with the prospective customer. The product or service comes secondary to understanding that customer’s particular needs.
The consultative selling approach isn’t about getting the sale. It’s about developing the relationship. Sales are the outcome, not the objective.
Why using a personalised selling approach will improve your results
Personalised selling makes customers more likely to buy from you and more likely to stick with you. Why? Because they trust you. They believe that you know what you’re talking about. You’re a specialist in your field, with their best interests at heart, not just someone who sees them as a target.
Consultative sales might not always get you the quick win, but it’ll get you the long win; once your prospects become customers, they’re unlikely to churn. Not only that, but they’re more likely to recommend you to other prospects.
Conversely, if your team is focussing on the quick wins without taking a personalised approach, the customer is less likely to be satisfied, more likely to churn and more likely to give a bad review. Yes, you made a sale – but was it worth it?
“In an age of digital media, the importance of a personal, human interaction has dramatically increased”
3 tips for using consultative selling to improve your results
1. Act like a consultant
The clue really is in the name: consultative selling. So, stop simply selling and start consulting. Your job is to understand, guide, suggest and advise. The aim is to make yourself invaluable and trustworthy to customers.
Send prospects helpful and informative information, guides and how-to’s, not sales brochures. Make their life easier and they’ll pay you for it.
2. Become a thought leader
Customers don’t want salesmen, they want experts and thought leaders. That’s why it’s important for sales professionals to develop their LinkedIn profiles. This is often the first place a prospect will encounter them, so it needs to present the right image.
Consider the difference from a prospect’s perspective viewing the profile of John Boyd – Sales Rep at Jones & Sons Fridges vs. John Boyd – Customer Satisfaction and Refrigeration Specialist at Jones & Sons.
Get reacquainted with the business, its products and services. Become an expert on what you do and the problems you can solve for your customers.
3. Be patient
One reason why consultative sales is challenging for sales teams is because it requires patience. Sales professionals are competitive and have a natural drive to push for the win. This can make the waiting game agonising for some.
Remember that the goal is a long term relationship and these take time to build.
Introduce consultative selling and its potency to your sales teams today. Challenge them to create the best LinkedIn profile with the most insightful articles and engaged followers. Incentivise and reward long term relationships and referrals, rather than just individual sales.
If you and your team want to develop your influential communication and persuasive skills further, sign up for our Mastering Communication with influence program.
Having led a range of businesses in both small and complex teams, Tim enjoys working with people and organisations determined to realise their potential – those prepared to act decisively and with the conviction required to bring that potential to life.