While having a buyer share a goal is a highly positive event, it also can be the catalyst that causes traditional salespeople to misbehave. Picture a traditional salesperson, for example, making a call on a finance executive. The executive says, “Our forecasting accuracy has been awful, and this is an area in which I’d like us to improve.” What response will most traditional salespeople make in this situation?
If a traditional salesperson’s process does not have patience built into it, he or she most likely will attempt to project his or her vision of a solution onto the buyer, rather than developing a vision that the buyer owns. Many launch right into something to the effect of, “Here’s what you need to improve forecasting accuracy!” Then begins the intense “spray and pray” of features, many of which the executive doesn’t understand, isn’t interested in, and may not even need. Mix in some ownership for the vendor or seller achieving the buyer’s goal, and you have a potential lost opportunity.
Sharing a seller’s opinion or trying to impose that opinion on a buyer won’t work in most cases. Instead, once a goal is shared, the traditional salesperson needs two qualities in order to take a Customer-Focused next step:
A questioning etiquette that provides artificial patience to avoid giving the seller’s opinion of what the buyer needs.
Artificial intelligence in the form of questions designed to (1) understand the buyer’s current environment, (2) understand what parts of the offering are needed, and (3) propose usage scenarios to the buyer.
These two components, integrated in the Solution Development Prompter (SDP), provide a template enabling sellers to deliver Sales-Ready Messaging. These templates help traditional sellers become Customer-Focused by leading the buyer to a vision of a solution that the buyer owns.
Let’s say a CFO expresses a desire to improve forecasting accuracy. The Customer-Focused way for sellers to exhibit patience and frame the conversation is to ask, “How do you forecast today?” This allows the buyer to discuss his or her current approach, which in turn allows the following positive things to happen:
The salesperson gains an understanding of how the CFO currently forecasts.
The cost of poor forecasting and/or the potential benefit of more accurate forecasting can be established.
The usage scenarios the buyer is most likely to want and need can be uncovered and offered.
Usage scenarios the buyer is unlikely to need can be identified and avoided.
The buyer concludes that the salesperson is competent, by virtue of being able to ask intelligent questions related to forecasting accuracy.
The buyer concludes that this salesperson is different from the negative stereotype.
The seller allows the buyer to decide which usage scenarios are needed.
The buyer can decide if having those usage scenarios would empower him or her to achieve the goal of more accurate forecasting.
While few would disagree that these are all great outcomes, it is sobering to realize that the vast majority of salespeople (90 percent?) will be unable to achieve them without Sales-Ready Messaging, which ultimately positions a company’s offerings. Once the components of a conversation (vertical industry/title/goal) have been established, salespeople can benefit by executing Solution Development Prompters. Sales organizations can also benefit because the output of these calls becomes more objective and less dependent on the salesperson’s biased opinion.