Four easy-to-remember keys can help your salespeople trump the competition.
In his book Business Blindspots, Benjamin Gilad insists, “Competitive selling is based upon the ability to listen to: consumers, competitors, suppliers, industry experts, and – most importantly – one’s own customers.”
According to Gilad, versatile salespeople gain a competitive edge by mastering the “four O’s” to build rapport, uncover hidden needs, and provide customers with precisely what they need in order to agree to do business.
- Orient to the prospect’s buying process. When thousands of b2b prospects were asked what their biggest complaint about salespeople was, nearly one-fifth of them replied, “Not taking the time to learn how my buying process works.” Salespeople who partner with prospects early on to understand how their process works, as well as who else is involved, and what each step requires, have a much better chance of earning the prospect’s trust, and, ultimately, more business. It may even be helpful to develop a timeline for the sale, so you have a clear sense of how to pace each step, as well as a reasonable idea of when the prospect is looking to make a final decision.
- Observe the prospect’s marketplace. The more familiar salespeople are with each prospect’s challenges, priorities, mission and values, the easier it becomes to engage in an expert-to-expert dialogue. Industry publications, professional organizations, websites, videos, seminars and trade shows are all great resources for staying up-to-date on the latest trends, while networking with some of the most valuable prospects in the field. Staying on top of the latest trends in each prospect’s industry renders the salesperson all the more apt to suggest value-added solutions that bolster the offer.
- Optimize your value proposition. Once you’ve done the legwork to determine what a prospect’s specific needs are, consider matching those needs with a primary benefit that helps the prospect address: an ongoing issue, a cost concern, or some matter of efficiency. If the prospect is already doing business with a competitor, salespeople may also find it beneficial to focus on where the competitor is coming up short, and what – if anything – their company is able to offer that the incumbent supplier can’t.
- Orchestrate a plan of action. Schedule some time to meet with the prospect, as well as anyone else who might have a say in the buying decision. Use the meeting to make a strong connection between key selling points and all the market research you’ve done. Make it a point to engage prospects throughout the presentation, perhaps even adding a simple call to action (e.g., asking prospects to visit your company’s website or take part in a free trial/demo). The call to action provides a helpful way for salespeople to follow up after the fact, while keeping their products and services on the prospect’s radar in the meantime. On top of which, if the prospect has any lingering concerns, a free trial gives them an opportunity to “test drive” the product before agreeing to a sale. It also moves salespeople one step closer to closing the sale, one minor commitment at a time.