Training, the earliest signs are found in the sales professional’s selling behaviors that emerge before those metrics begin to move in the wrong direction. It is in those moments when the selling organization has the greatest opportunity to create change.
This idea begs the question: What are those signaling behaviors? Here, we examine three of the most common selling behaviors that suggest it’s time to renew selling skills.
They Have Made Pricing Their Competitive Strategy
Competing on price only encourages the customer to view the solution as a commodity. Moreover, customers today are in a strong position to find a lower price for nearly any product or service. Given the customer’s access to such vast resources, it is unlikely that a low price will ever go unmatched.
Additionally, a focus on pricing misses a valuable opportunity to ask the questions revealing what the customer truly cares about. In many buying decisions, the price represents only one of several critical factors underpinning their decision. Customers are focused on three general goals: to make money, save money, or manage risk. A focus on pricing ignores two of these drivers.
They Focus Only on Features, Functions, and Benefits
Discussing features, functions, and benefits risks losing important customer details. Without these details, the sales professional cannot connect the solution capabilities to the customer’s needs. Forming these connections means taking the time to ask the kinds of questions that surface the challenges and goals underlying the buying decision.
The tendency to jump to product features is understandable. A sales conversation represents the high-stakes engagement that prompts most people to justify their presence with a list of benefits. Therefore, asking questions is a skill that requires mindfulness and practice. It is also important to remember that a questioning strategy should extend throughout the sales conversation. For example, sales professionals need to ask questions to ensure that the sales conversation is tracking the customer’s needs. The sales professional must also periodically check in to ensure that the benefits discussed align with the customer’s perception of value.
They Are Doing More Talking Than the Customer
The path to the sale is in the customer’s words. If the sales professional is talking, they are not getting the information that comes from listening to the customer’s perspective. Despite this, many sales professionals dominate the conversation. The reason: silence is uncomfortable.
Many sales professionals believe that even a little silence suggests that the conversation is going nowhere or that the solution simply does not resonate with the customer.
One solution to this problem is to become comfortable with silence. Sales professionals can do so by remembering that the silence often demonstrates the customer’s willingness to think through the responses they provide. This thoughtfulness on the customer’s side is good for the sales professional because it indicates that the information shared is salient and valuable to positioning the sale later.