Moving sales from an artform to a science

Successful selling.

Is it about working alongside someone and collaborating on solutions, or is it about getting them to do what you want?

Is it about helping them or manipulating them?

We hear both of these views and there are believers in both approaches.

Nor is it easy to draw the line between these styles. On a recent sales training programme an attendee bridled at the idea of using questions to understand a buyer’s problem. That’s manipulative, he claimed.

Behind this lurks the reputation that sales has in some quarters of being pushy, assertive and just too keen to get the deal.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

What does your customer want from you?

This might seem like an easy question to answer. If you sell cheese or accounting solutions, then your buyer wants a piece of cheddar, or they want their tax return done. Right?

Well, not necessarily. This suggests your sale is an entirely rational and transactional thing.

A buyer of cheese might be looking for a tasty snack – and their motivation is about the taste sensation, not just cheese.

Or the cheese might be the “au gratin” topping to a special meal they are preparing for a loved one’s birthday. It’s not necessarily just about the product.

If your product is a high-volume line sold through supermarkets you don’t get the chance to ask every buyer what their motivations are.

But if you’re an accountant you can ask your client a few probing questions about what’s top of mind for them this year. How is their team performing? What are their growth plans? What keeps them up at night?

Answers to these questions will help you understand what they really want from you.

How do you make yourself easy to do business with?

If you’ve ever thought about customer experience (CX) then you’ll have probed into all the contact points your customer has with you.

From your onboarding process (you don’t have one??) through to how you invoice and manage credit control, and onto your social media profiles, newsletter and so on.

These are all key touch points that influence how easy you are to do business with.

One size doesn’t fit all, of course, so you might have to work with averages for your typical cheese buyer, whilst reserving your management time for conversations with your accountancy clients.

Whatever the solution, your aim is to remove friction from the buying process and to delight customers with your delivery.

The question is: What does each customer want?

How can you tailor your customer experience (CX) to individual buyers?

Most businesses have a small number of clients it’s worth dedicating time and resource to. This sales approach is often called Key Account Management (KAM).

There are many elements to a successful KAM model, which should include company strategy, organisation design, budgeting and supply chain.

But implementing this at an individual buyer level needs you to treat them as unique humans.

This involves asking probing questions, listening to answers and observing body language and other styles of communication to figure out how they choose to interact.

Instinctively you probably know some decision makers just want to know the numbers and what the deal is worth to them. Others are interested in how your proposal fits with their company strategy and how they “sell” it internally.

Some buyers want glossy charts with an ambitious vision. Others want the spreadsheet with the numbers.

Great sales people figure this out. But across an organisation each figures it out differently and draws different conclusions from similar prompts. That risks a sales team with variable skill levels, inconsistent approaches and lost leads.

How can I deliver a consistent customer experience?

What if there was a tool that gave you a consistent understanding of buyer behaviour? Each of your sales team could approach decision makers in a unique, yet structured way, based on consistent evaluation of customers.

Could you identify buyers who need short, punchy presentations with a great story and a glossy pitch versus those who want analysis and detailed implementation plans?

Maybe you can figure out which buyers need time to reflect on a proposal, answering a couple of key questions – versus those who want to see a couple of options and co-collaborate on the solution.

Which decision makers respond better to pre-planned agendas and timely presentations, versus those who like to pitch up unprepared and make decisions on the hoof?

The Sales Influencer Programme

Our Sales Influencer programme uses the Emergenetics® psychometric profiling tool to help your sales and commercial teams get the best from each other’s talents. Emergenetics® is based in brain science and provides evidenced guidance on how people prefer to think and behave.

Working from this powerful base, the team focus on your key customer decision makers and identify what approaches are most likely to work with them.

What is the best approach to meetings; how best to present to them; how much to engage them and when to hold back? And more.

Using this insight the team will create action plans for each buyer, ensuring you have a high-performing team internally that’s laser-focused on the customer externally.

If you want a more consistent and proven way to influence your customers then we’d love to chat.