Five best-selling authors, Speaker Hall of Fame recipients, internationally-acclaimed business consultants and best buddies give their insights on business and life.
From Mark Sanborn:
First, it used to be enough to promise value to make the sale. If a client believed you could deliver, they gave you a chance. Today, you need to prove value to make the sale. Demonstrate what you can do to help the client be more successful. Don’t tell prospects how good the candy tastes. Let them taste the candy knowing they’ll want to buy more once they do.
Second, it has become cliché that “customers don’t want to be sold, they want to buy.” That’s changed. Today customers want to be sold—to have a professional get to know them, understand their needs and suggest the best possible product or service to meet them. Customers are better informed, but that still don’t want to do the work of the sales professional. Customers want to be sold so they can make a good buying decision. (What they don’t want is to be pressured or manipulated.)
Finally, a sale doesn’t create a customer. A sale creates a transaction. How the sale is made and what happens after creates a customer, or sends a potential long-term customer packing. A sales pro aims for an ongoing relationship, not a single transaction.
Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.
From Scott McKain:
The Agricultural Age didn’t end because we ran out of farms. The Industrial Age didn’t conclude because we ran out of factories. Instead, the products of those farms and factories became so plentiful that customers of their goods could afford more in the way of services.
Now, in my opinion, the Information Age is dead. It’s not because we’re out of information – it’s that we are awash in it.
Therefore, the fundamental nature of selling has changed.
My client, BMW, tells me that just six years ago, the average customer made about six visits to car dealerships to make a purchase decision. Today, that number has dropped to 1.3!
Why? Customers don’t need the salesperson to serve as their source of information. The Internet means we enter a dealership armed with almost as much enlightenment about the car as the person trying to sell us!
The distinctive sales professional of today – and the future – views her job as one of providing wisdom, rather than merely regurgitating product information.
Your success in sales will depend more upon your ability to provide superior insights about how you are a better solution – and less upon dumping data on prospects you’re attempting to persuade.
Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com
From Larry Winget:
The fundamentals of selling really haven’t changed. Buying has changed, but not selling.
Selling is, always has been and always will be about having a product the customer perceives to be a solution to a problem they have. If your product doesn’t solve a customer’s problem, you have nothing to sell. Some people think they have a great product but if the customer doesn’t see it as a solution, you’ve got nothing. And the bigger the problem you solve, the more you can charge for it. A 99 cent hamburger solves a 99 cent problem. A $250,000 heart surgery obviously solves a bigger problem and costs more.
Past that concept, you have to make the customer aware that you have a solution and you have to ask the customer to buy it. The way you do both of those HAS changed dramatically.
My focus has always been on the basics: solving a problem, making people aware I have a solution to their problem and asking them to buy it. All while working on my product to make sure the value of the problem I solve increases so I can charge more for it.
Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development®, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.
From Joe Calloway:
Selling used to be about knowing your product or service inside out so that you could make a great pitch to your prospect. For me, a key to my selling success has been having deep knowledge about the customer and the customer’s business. When a new prospect says to me, “Why should I do business with you?” my answer is, “I don’t know that you should. Let’s find out.”
Then the process begins. It’s not a process of convincing them to buy. It’s a process of me gaining a deep understanding of what they’re wanting to accomplish or, as Larry points out, what problem they’re trying to solve.
One moment I’ll always remember was sitting in the office of a CEO who said to me, “The reason we do business with you is that you get us. You understand where we’re trying to take this company and you help us to that.”
Let me know more about the customer and understand their business better than my competition does and I’ll win almost every time.
Selling yesterday: I’m good at what I do.
Selling today: I’m good at understanding what you do and here’s how I can help you.
Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com.
From Randy Pennington:
Does this sound familiar?
“Competition is stronger. No longer will sales gimmickry work in the marketplace. Buyers are getting smarter, more sophisticated, more demanding. They won’t put up with all of this old manipulative stuff anymore… Buyer tastes and levels of awareness are constantly being upgraded. And the whole world is competing for consumers’ dollars.”
This message echoes many of the themes my colleagues have so eloquently shared. Ron Willingham wrote them in a book titled Integrity Selling in 1987.
Everything has changed, and nothing has changed.
Today’s customer expectations are simply the continued evolution of a change that began decades ago. But, the principles that sustain the best sales professionals remain the same.
Know what you are doing and why. Listen. Solve the customer’s problem not your own. Constantly reassess your strategy. Continuously upgrade your tactics and tools to remain relevant. Serve the customer where they are.
Customer preferences, values, and demographics will always change. Technology and tools will continue to become more powerful giving you and your customer more information. How you build and sustain your army of satisfied customers will always change. The need to do so will remain.
Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.