What are some innovative and effective sales techniques for B2B consultants?
I am interested in learning about techniques and lessons learned about innovative sales techniques (think "Selling is Human: by Dan Pink). I loathe the "used car salesmen approach" and style but am interested in what has worked for others when taking a more authentic approach. Practical tips, lessons learned, networks, and resources are very much appreciated.
we have recently changed our selling style and implemented what is known as era 3 selling techniques (era 1 = used car, era 2 = consultative selling, era 3 = diagnostic).
From a practical point of view this means our sales people look to really understand the customers environment, requirements and pain points through dialogue and supporting visuals. To encourage dialogue and discussion when we are face to face we do not use PowerPoint anymore, instead we use the whiteboard (we even have a smaller desk based version) to diagram and discuss the primary areas of concern of a prospective customer. We will color code for a powerful visual representation of the discussion (e.g. red for primary pain points). We have recently evolved to using this on the phone for smaller customers. Note that senior management will need to spend some time on identifying the primary areas for discussion and design a template diagram. You will also need to train sales people to get comfortable with this style of selling but it is worth it, as this method of selling really helps the potential customer feels invested in your solution.
I have an entire heart centered sales approach I teach to my clients that is about looking for a fit, not a sale, in a non-sleazy way. I can give you a few guidelines here, but writing an entire sales process would be too much for a post. If you want more information, I can hop on the phone and give you a complimentary strategy session.
My sales close ratio is currently 33%. I am totally heart centered about selling.
Here are a couple of tips:
1) look for a fit for your services, not a sale.
2) be sure your services solve the prospects challenges or pain, if not, be ready to make a referral, so they will be served either way.
3) use the sales conversation to ask specific questions (I give my clients a script and role play with them)
4) see sales as service
5) Know how to help a prospect step into the transformation they want/need that your services provide by knowing how to effectively overcome objections (I give my clients printed responses to common objections and work with them on the more uncommon ones they get on how to overcome them in a heart centered way).
6) Be selective in who YOU want to work with. If your gut tells you it is a wrong fit for you, refer them
7) Make your goal for the call to give your very best sales conversation, AND detach from the outcome
8) be sure the benefits of your program provide solutions to their problems, when telling them what you can do
9) don't go into coaching them too much in the sales conversation. If they come to you in pain, and you give them a tip, they will think they can "just go try that" and may not hire you. As we know, a tip or two does not build a business or provide real transformation. It is actually a disservice to the prospect for them to go off comfortable with a tip that is not going to help them in the long run.
I hope these help!
I may echo some of what's already been said.
But 1st, choose the orgs that will actually be interested in your product or service (ie your customer segment), so you don't blanket e-mail or blanket call a whole lot of mildly annoyed people...and waste your time & money.
Tied for 2nd,
2. write short articles on topics of interest to your clients (whether your company's blog or outside publications) and
2. network to get to know more people, keep up on the trends and players in the field. Maybe even speak at a few events, and definitely get involved in an industry association (membership & programming committees tend to get you most exposure to issues & orgs/people).
4. Then, introduce yourself to potential clients (ideally in a low-pressure, say an association networking event, or through a friend; but also directly can work). Ask how they deal with this or that trend, what are their broad org challenges, and *listen*.
5 - Propose solutions that acknowledge & meet their needs (eg it may be networking & creating a sense of involvement/trust/communication/commitment for virtual teams, or it may be how to implement a MOOC for health workers in Angola, or ...). It's hard to be more specific without referring to a specific industry or project, but generally, it's listen to their issues, and show an understanding of the implementation challenges (including cultural, logistical, financial, internal marketing, etc) and how you can address them. You might also want to mention where you might fall short, or the things you're unsure of or would have to figure out along the way - this is risky, but can earn you huge trust points.
While potentially frustrating, I, as a tends-to-be-energetic-and-entrepreneurial-person, also find "taking it slow", or at the client's speed, works better than overwhelming with info and enthusiasm, although that obviously depends on the client's personality. Good luck!
Keywords are the key. No image ads, just simple words to put your idea across. Mention websites and match the order process with the sales lead generation.
Hi Nicole, et al. Great conversation. For me, as a coach that helps individuals and organizations move their needle from mediocrity to excellence, I have come to appreciate and successfully understand that many potential clients have the answers they need, or know how to get them, but need a guide to walk alongside them ... helping rather than telling them! Thus, for me, taking a sincere and interest in those around you, asking lots of questions, and suggesting excellence pays off.
network like crazy. don't push. give the info and ask do you see how this will benefit you. try to close if not ask when is a good time to follow up we are both busy people and I am not looking for unsatisfied customers.
Build a referral program for current and new customers.
Get up the courage to get on the phone and call the person.
I have a theory that says: I don't sell: I help people get what they need. If you truly have a product or service that someone needs and there is a match....help them with your service or product. Create an attitude of gratitude with that client.
On a personal note, I have been very grateful when a sales rep has helped me (read between the lines....sold me) buy a product or use a service that makes my life easier.
Pull don't push, listen don't talk, question don't promise, focus on consequences of inaction, get the prospect emotionally revealing rather than intellectually distant, be open and up front about money, demonstrate empathy, discuss changing minds after a "deal" and don't think you have anything sold until you see the payment posted in your account. Hire someone who can guide you through a process in theory and then in practice and don't fool yourself into thinking you will master selling from reading a book.
You might want to check out Jill Konrath's SNAP Selling Strategy. Its a great resource for selling to small and midsized companies. She also wrote the book on selling to Fortune 500 companies.
Nicole - I started using the Sandler Sales process this year and have had terrific results. http://www.sandler.com Two key components of it I like: 1. It has given me a system. I have been selling consulting & training services for 15 yrs typically to a "warm" prospect. Now doing cold calls to a list & without Sandler Results were terrible! 2. The system is based on working to uncover the prospects needs & determine if my services will fit, and if they can afford them way before I waste my time or theirs on a proposal! The site should give you a Sandler business near you. :)
available for new challenges
I am not sure there is any general point on this. The main thing is to set clear targets of your communication, then analyse who are all your stakeholder and then even if your actions are different with all of them the idea is to identify the message you want to give them. Once this set, you will find in an easier way what you can implement.
Go luck, but prior to any action, the target is the key.
Check "The Challenger Sale" for an overview of the new reality, and look at Strengths Assesments (Gallup's CSF, VIAme from VIA, and StandOut from The Marcus Buckingham Company) to beging to tap into your unique talents and bring them more fully to the B2B sales process.
Understanding Funnel Marketing & your Buyer's Journey are also very important.
Listen to them, understand their pain points, aspirations etc. Sell into the power base so try and identify the guy who has the budget. Be a bit more consultative, ask them relevant questions to what they are telling you especially in the first meeting when really you are both on a discovery.
Here's how to eliminate a sales pro's biggest problem - wasting time on bad buyers.
1st identify who your ideal buyer is, then create questions that qualify or disqualify them. Pursue the good ones, run from the bad.
Hi Nicole, A key insight for me was that the prospective client's decision making process was ultimately more important than any sales process, book, or template I might want to follow.
To be clear, I'm not talking about the approval process, though that's important, rather the "smaller" or intermediate decisions a person makes on the way to deciding to make a larger B2B purchase. These include the decisions on the direction of the solution being presented, that the solution solves their problem, that any negatives can be managed, and on how to overcome expected obstacles on the way.
Helping someone make good "smaller" decisions, and not pushing them to skip one, will keep the sale authentic, create value for both of you, and build the trust others have referred to here.
A cautionary note - it's common for the scope of a sale to change during a consultative dialog - make sure your prospect remains fully qualified throughout.
Author of "Close that Sale! A guide for consultative business to business sales"
In this world of social Media, Sales have gone social. No body likes to cold call and best way to sell is to know who you are selling to well in advance. Social media allows us to listen in to our target, which provides us trigger events to add value to our Target. we practice social selling and have courses for executives to learn to sell using social media such as Linkedin, Twitter etc.. if you are interested , please join me on linkedin or email me and i can provide you many innovative ways and techniques to sell. See my blog entry http://www.wsismm.com/social-selling-new-black-in-lead-generation/
Hi Nicole, through my business I train sales people on B2B selling. Remember that the basics always work. Cold call, qualify, fact find, present your solution, close and ask for referrals. I can coach you and others on all techniques to achieve a high level of quality results. Please contact me if you wish. Aim high and conquer.
Nigel William Cotton
Alliance sales and marketing is critical; ie. reaching out and identifying "key" partners and services that complement your products and services and do not compete with you and working closely to identify opportunities for both parties. We have been doing this successfully for some time.
I would say it is simple. That is put the client first and one must truly care about that individual or business. Networking still works. Big advantage is so few understand what quality service is, it is easy to stand above the competition by doing the little extras. I say, anyone can do the basics only a few can do the little extras.