So, what do you want for your business? Increased revenue? More Clients? And what do you do to get what you want? You make sure other people/companies are getting what they need. That’s where you focus your energies.
The mistake many businesses make is focusing on what they need. The other day I was meeting with a banker. The management of the institution had set up sales goals that were completely unrealistic; high numbers for business loans, unmanageable methods and expectations, and pitting employees against each other. The situation was untenable. It’s a clear example of a company looking inward when it should be looking out.
You know what is happening at that bank? They are focusing on what they want, not on what the clients need. If they sent their business bankers out into the business community with the goal of securing qualified, significant, business relationships with clients, they’d excel and everyone would be happy. However, they’ve decided that they want, or need, to write more loans. So, everyone spends time bringing in potential loans that, in reality, are not going to get through underwriting. Yes, there is activity. But it’s wasted time.
If the leadership stuck to their goal revenue goal and let the sales managers work with their teams to realize that goal, everyone would win. When the leadership dictates which products to push, AND how to push them, they’ve effectively moved the goal to “do it my way.” I can tell you with certainty that this belief system will not result in the revenue goal. This situation is not limited to this bank and isn’t even limited to the banking industry. Business leaders in all kinds of industries experience this every day.
Yesterday I was meeting with a client who is one of the partners in a business. We were talking about how they should go about selling and expanding throughout the United States. This man’s partner is one of those people who talks endlessly when he’s in front of a prospect. Where’s his focus? Right, it’s on what he wants to sell; not on what they need. He has decided what is relevant and worthy of sharing. He has decided that the prospect MUST know the things he wants to share.
No they don’t.
How is he going to get the sales that he wants? He’s going to first ask questions and listen to the answers. Then he’s going to respond to what he heard. Nowhere in the plan is there a place where he provides a lengthy dissertation around his product. So, realistically, how do you set up a system so that you get the sales you want?
1. Understand the value of your product or service.
It’s not about the features and it’s not about the big, detailed flashy marketing material you’ve created. It’s never about what you need. Your product or service is valuable to your prospect because it solves a problem they are having. Notice I said it’s a problem they are having. If they aren’t in pain, they don’t need what you have to sell. No amount of chatter or cold calling is going to get them to part with their money. The only thing you’ll succeed at is alienating them. Your chances of ever doing business with them just dropped to zero.
2. Know who it’s valuable to.
You aren’t going to sell to everyone – even if everyone is a potential client. You are only going to sell to the companies or people who have a need. There may be more than one pool of such prospects. Pick one to focus on. You can always add in another once you’ve fully penetrated the first one.
3. Seek to solve.
Your goal is to see if you have a solution to the prospect’s problem. The only way you can do this is to have a set of questions to ask. These questions should cover the gamut of what you need to know to determine whether they are a qualified candidate. So, ask your question and then LISTEN to their response. You can’t fake this step. Really listen and take notes. Their answers will paint a picture for you about who they are, how they operate, and what they need. You can either help them or you can’t. Your job is to find out.
4. Be relevant.
When you identify a qualified prospect, provide them with a proposal. Make sure your proposal speaks to their exact situation. This is how they will know you were listening to them. This is how they will know you have a solution to their problem. This is when they will buy.
If you determine that they are not a qualified prospect, tell them. Whenever possible, refer them to someone you know and trust who may be able to help them. While you won’t be doing business with them, they will remember your honesty and they will refer you to others.
It’s not so hard. As a matter of fact, this process is easier and more results oriented. You get the sales you want when you give the solutions your prospects need. It’s as simple as that. Give it a try. I know you’ll be happy with the results.
Sales Photo via Shutterstock
Great post. It’s amazing how much more credibility you have with a client when you focus on their needs and only pitch yourself when you can fill one of those needs. It may be hard to walk out of an appointment without a signed deal, but the relationship will pay off down the road.
And yet it’s something so many sales people fail to remember! Thanks for the comment Robert.
Honestly, myself and others I worked with at starting several businesses struggled with seeing ‘only what we wanted’ and trying to get it. Through ignorance and the want to succeed so bad we simply pushed aside thinking of what we could accomplish by really applying ourselves to the clients we did have, and not constantly focusing on getting new ones.
This article is a great share and I personally feel the reason many businesses do not get where they want to go. Thanks for the post!
Thanks for sharing your experience WD. It’s the old belief that you get what you want by helping others get what they need. Easy to forget, yet critical to success.
Great article, Diane. Absolutely on the revenue, so to speak. Amazing how hard it is for co owners and managers to realize that of course, you need to make money. But where does the money come from? Customers…so meeting their needs is the way to make money. Easy to understand, egos make it difficult to do.
Author Roadmap to Revenue: How to sell the way your customers want to buy
Thanks Kristin. I look forward to having you on my radio show in June!
Hi Diane, thanks for your article here. Can you tell me how would I go about finding ways to approach people about the products I sell. I sell supplement insurance like disability,accident and cancer. The people that I am working with are teachers but it’s sometimes hard to get their attention. Any ideas you can share with me. I appreciate your time.
Sally, a couple of ideas that come to mind are offering an informational seminar where they can learn about something in your space. It’s not an infomercial or sales pitch – simply providing them with information. An informed consumer is a good consumer. When you give information that helps someone make a decision, without trying to sell them in the process, you elevate your standing with them. They are more likely to trust you. You can also mail them a newspaper article or something like that when it is something that would be relevant and valuable to them. You are showing that you care about them, are thinking about them, and want to help them.
When you are trying to get a meeting, you can either tap in to your networks to gain an introduction directly to the person you want to meet with or cold call them. Remember that either way you are wanting a 20 minute conversation with them where you can learn more about them and their needs. It’s exploratory to determine whether you have a solution to one of their pains.
Hope that helps!
Hi, great article, Its amazing that business still miss what crucial to Success, putting themselves into the clients shoes, first and foremost.
I am been in sales for most of my working career, I see it time and time again.