According to independent research conducted by Richardson Sales Training, the most pressing challenge facing sales professionals in 2019 is navigating the increased complexity in selling today. The research reveals it is no longer enough to rely on one skill. Success now requires managing multiple touchpoints, even within one selling opportunity.
Sales professionals need to consider how they will maintain a consistent cadence across multiple channels, overcome the buyer's misperception of what they need, and find ways to add relevant value for various stakeholders.
Here we explore insights that will help sales professionals overcome these challenges.
Maintaining contact across multiple channels
Sales professionals can practice consistency across channels by simplifying their messages. Rather than relying on detailed product explanations, sales professionals should use concise, clear language to make the most of their limited time with the customer.
This tight messaging should underscore how others in the same or similar industries have adopted the solution with successful results. This approach relies on what psychologists call "normative messaging." This technique aligns the customer to the solution's value by proving its efficacy with other customers.
Prospecting succeeds or fails in the span of only a few minutes. Making each minute count means developing a carefully crafted, concise message that underscores how others have succeeded with the solution.
Overcoming buyers' misperceptions
Overcoming the buyers' misperceptions means asserting a point of view to guide or reframe thinking.
Sales professionals must first create a safety zone by normalizing the situation and reassuring the customer that misperceptions are common. Next, the sales professional should clarify their intent to share their perspective. Then, sales professionals need a structured statement that identifies the issue, action and value underpinning the perspective. Finally, it's critical to ask reflection questions to see how the customer is receiving the point of view.
Once feedback is offered, sales professionals can align on action by agreeing on a specific path forward.
This approach requires transparency on the part of the sales professional. In many cases, the sales professional's willingness to share information is more influential than the content of the information.
Building a case for change
Sales professionals need to address the elements of change within the customer's business. These elements include the customer's strategy, the core issue, desired outcomes, solution options, and perceptions of value and risk. It's the sales professional's job to bring these elements into clear view and share insights and value to shape each element in their favor.
To reach a buying decision, the case for change must be strong enough to prevail against all the forces driving against change.
Adding value for stakeholders
Developing relevant value for stakeholders begins with an understanding of what the customer is trying to accomplish.
Customer goals all fit into one of three categories: to make money, save money or reduce risk. Once a sales professional knows which of these three is driving the customer's decisions, they can begin to develop value by considering the customer's objectives, issues, initiatives, values and culture.
For example, business issues fall into one of six major categories: resources, market, competitive, regulatory, financial and operational. Real value creation arises from the overlap between the customer's strategic initiatives and the solution.
Balancing sales and relationship management
The sale extends beyond closing. The sales professional must ensure that the customer is satisfied with implementation and ongoing support. Without ensuring that these steps unfold properly, the sales professional has little hope of expanding the selling relationship later.
This characteristic of selling is truly a balancing act, because the sales professional must be willing to let others in their organization complete these follow-up steps while also remaining close enough to the action to ensure that all touchpoints are successful.
Sales professionals who learn how to build agility and overcome common challenges in a competitive and increasingly undifferentiated market will succeed in 2019.