In my previous blog post, I covered how to make more rainmakers in your sales organization. This is the second post in a three-part series addressing ways to achieve bigger, more profitable deals for your organization. The second tactic we'll cover is about how to train your reps to be an advisor, not a sales person.
With today's modern, empowered buyer, nearly 60% of buying decisions are made prior to speaking to a sales person. A "show up and throw up," feature-function sales pitch will have your customer running to the door faster than you can click to your next PowerPoint slide. Your competitor, who understands the buyer's perspective and needs, will be laughing all the way to the bank. The Glengarry Glen Ross "ABC" (Always Be Closing) sales tactic must be tapered and adjusted to the modern buyer. Nobody wants to be sold to. Who do you go to when you want to purchase a car or a fancy camera? You are more likely seek out a friend who is knowledgeable in the subject area and follow their advice and recommendations...or, you may go to a crowd-sourced site and read reviews and suggestions.
Be a trusted advisor to your customer. Understand your customer's industry and the buying behaviors within it. Talk about trends facing your customer's competitors, issues that matter to them and challenges that may keep them up at night. Be frank; talk about what worked—and what didn't—and provide anecdotal references and benefits that other customers like them have achieved. This allows them to reflect, trust, and refer to you for advice.
The advisor status doesn't just happen overnight. Reps must earn their marks well before the customer even knows he is looking to buy. This is done easily by investing in and building a social (professional) brand. Top performers spend 6 hours per week on LinkedIn. Social selling isn't just creating a LinkedIn profile. Learn your customer's industry challenges, then write about it and share it on LinkedIn regularly. In this way, reps build their personal brand—as a luminary, a thought leader, a knowledge expert. Customers will look to them as a source of knowledge rather than a sales person.
By transforming your reps into advisors, not only will you sell more, but you'll also protect and grow future market share. The next and final post in this series on driving larger, more profitable deals will focus on collaborating across the organization and how that helps accelerate sales cycles.