In 2006 I discovered the practice of Fractional Sales Management before it became an emerging…
Today’s buyer-empowered age makes it difficult to stand out in a buyers eyes solely through product knowledge. The importance and necessity of being knowledgeable remains the same, but it doesn’t provide the same differentiator as it once did. Standing out in the eyes of a customer and prospective buyer are what all sales people hope for, but what’s being done to make that happen? Being referred into a prospect is still the best way to start a new relationship with a selling edge. What are you doing to maintain that edge, and how are you recognized as different in your prospects eyes?
There are many ways to maintain a selling edge that will lead to more referrals and sold business. You’ll need to be yourself, determined and creative to find all yours. If you’re looking for some ideas on a selling edge, perhaps these four practices can help you out.
Keep writing hand-written notes
Sending someone a personal hand-written note has always been and is still today a meaningful and warm gesture. With the ease of sending a text or email message for every bit of communication, the hand-written note has gone by the wayside. I’m not saying you should never write a thank you or thoughtful email, but I am saying toss in a hand-written note from time to time and you will be noticed. Small note envelopes are the most fun to open and rarely are put on the back burner for weekend reading. Either use your company note stationary or buy your own. Send notes of thanks, introductions, and referrals or share something interesting. Be different.
One to two thought provoking questions
When I was leading training programs I was once called and asked to lead a customer service workshop. I could have sold them the workshop, collected my fees and they would have been happy, but I didn’t. Instead I asked them a few thought provoking questions.
- What led you to the decision to purchase customer service training?
- What do you hope will be different as a result of the training?
- What do you hope that difference will result in?
I found out they really wanted to increase revenue by 20% and thought if they were better at delivering customer service, their business would increase. Sound theory, but a generic training program might have missed the mark on what would impact the increase. They decided a customer focus group would be a better place to start, followed up with a customer service improvement plan and then customized training. By asking a few thought provoking questions, rather than going in for the easy sale led to a business who realized their goals and a consultant who was looked at as different.
We’ve evolved from speaking as friends to trying to find the most impressive term we can spew out in hopes of winning someone over. The problem with this approach is that every other company already claims to be customer focused, committed to maximizing shareholder value, and deliver solutions not products and services. Go read some websites or take a look at some LinkedIN profiles. You’ll see it, and you’ll notice it has very little meaning to you.
Challenge yourself to speak like a friend with your prospects. Use the words that are natural to you, rather than the “selling conversation” type you have been taught. Sometimes it’s good to use fewer words to make a point and other times it’s nice to use more words in a friendly manner. Be different.
Maximizing shareholder value OR we like to make it worth your while by getting the most out of the money, time and effort you’ll put into the project.
We don’t see ourselves as selling ___________, we provide solutions OR …yes we sell ______ but only when it solves your problems…do you want to see if our _______ might solve a problem of yours?
Be flexible and confident enough to let them lead
Today people are used to finding as much information as they want by simply searching and reading. They read at their pace and stay or leave a web page based on the relevancy or interest of the content. When you step in front of your prospect, think of yourself as a web page and allow them to browse to find information. Rather than going into your regular pitch of who you are, what you provide, discovery questions, etc., lay out a menu for them to choose from.
I can cover a lot or a little today but I’d most like to cover what is of interest to you. I can go over our history, share about how we approach things, highlight our products, or jump into hearing about your situation. Where would you like to start?
You’ll find many have already read about most of your presentation and are focused on learning something specific. Of course you have to get into discovery and understanding their mindset and problem, but dealing with their top of mind question will help them listen better to your questions and they will provide better answers. When you are flexible, sensitive to their priorities and willing to let them lead a bit, you will be different.
Here is a challenge, which I am joining in on. Send a note to someone every day for the next two weeks. I’ll give you a hint. Start by finding a simple and nice way of thanking your current and past customers for ……