The world of buying and selling continues to evolve. From our past client work, here are the top expectations that buyers are levying on salespeople. Understanding these expectations is a critical step in becoming a differentiated seller.
Customer Expectation 1: “Take More Responsibility”
Customers and buyers must make the right purchasing decisions. And they want salespeople who work as partners to help them achieve business results. To that end, buyers now demand that salespeople understand their business, interpret their needs, and provide clear translation across their teams.
Due to the evolution of customer expectations, the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required are changing. Ten years ago, salespeople were valued primarily for their persuasiveness and persistence. But today, their abilities must include strategic thinking, problem-solving, active listening, and creativity.
Salespeople are under increased pressure to attain not only the goals of your organization but also the goals of the buying organization; you must accept responsibility for ensuring success on both the buyer side and seller side of the relationship.
Customers Expectation 2: "Understand and Relate to My Business”
If the sales team is on the journey to move from a transactional seller to more insight-led selling, salespeople will have to develop true partnerships with multiple buyers in the customer organization. You will need to create deeper relationships and a personal network within customers’ companies, while also developing networks and expertise within their specific industry.
To understand the customer’s business, sales managers need to help their salespeople probe for problems, needs, and opportunities that are top-of-mind for the buyer. As a result, sales leaders will need to recognize that buyers may view your products as commodities.
Real differentiation involves demonstrating how the product will solve the buyer’s business problems within the context of their business. To meet this expectation, sales training teams will need to work with sales management to develop business acumen in the areas of finance and engage in thoughtful discussions about the customer’s business strategy.
Customer Expectation 3: “Bring Me Insights”
Historically, the roles of the salesperson and sales manager have focused on monthly or quarterly targets and results. Many sales professionals are forced into a commodity-selling environment that is transactional rather than strategic or consultative.
To develop insights to share with customers, salespeople must collect information and data over more extended periods. They must also develop an approach to creating a valid point of view, so that point of view becomes their differentiator.
To bring buyers insight, the sales team must develop techniques and mechanisms to test their point of view, receive push back about that point of view, and then back-up their point of view with logic. Only then will salespeople be able to have a more engaging conversation with customers.
Customer Expectation 4: “Listen More”
To help buyers solve business problems, and sell with insight, the sales team must have a strong understanding of the buyer’s business, industry, customers, competitors, and products. The way to gain this knowledge and insight is to listen!
Sellers will need to develop analysis and pattern recognition skills to help buyers navigate the complexity of their organization and cope with the volume of information available.
While communication skills are essential to success in any occupation, listening skills can help salespeople identify root problems and hidden obstacles that could affect the buyer’s business success. Listening also requires expertise in building rapport, patience, and timing to build the foundation for a trusting relationship.
Listening provides the foundation for learning about problems and supplying relevant solutions. Traditionally, sales organizations have focused on the volume of individual activity—number of calls made, number of presentations given— as an indicator of productivity. Meeting or exceeding sales quotas determined compensation.
Sales teams implementing new metrics, such as profitability and customer service satisfaction. Your impact can be scored and measured in addition to, or instead of, task frequency. These more customer-centric measures are surfacing as organizations attempt to shift or replace direct selling with lower-cost sales channels, such as telemarketing, direct mail, or email marketing.
About Growth Matters
Growth Matters is an international business founded in 2011. This consulting and services organization focusses on the development and practice of sales management and sales enablement. Our team of world-renowned experts spans the globe enabling businesses to improve sales conversations through services and solutions aligned to sales strategy. Charlotte, NC (USA) is the headquarter of our Americas operation. With dedicated offices in South Africa (EMEA), and Sydney (APAC), we regularly facilitate senior-level workshops in 17+ cities and countries. For more information on equipping sales managers, and aligning to sales leadership, contact the Growth Matters team at http://www.growthmatters.today
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