Collaborate with your future customers
Every sales professional wants to achieve and possibly even exceed their sales targets every year. As counter intuitive as it may sound, the best way to consistently do this, is to stop selling your products and services. Instead find innovative ways to integrate into your future customers businesses. As you move your focus away from simply trading products and services, to a place where you rather look to collaborate with your future customers, so that you can form meaningful partnerships with them, the whole dynamic changes.
You are no longer a simple vendor, who supplies a product or service. You now become an invaluable additional resource, who provides integrated, ongoing support to your customers. As you can imagine finding innovative ways to integrate into your future customers businesses, is far more challenging than merely selling your products and or services to a vendor. The rewards and consistent improvement that you will see, as you apply this powerful new sales tool, makes this process really worth the effort though.
Getting Started with Collaborative Selling
As you know, collaborative selling is all about integrating into your future customers business and uncovering innovative ways to become an additional resource them.
Start off by answering the questions below:
- What does the customer want to achieve?
- What is important to them?
- What are their needs?
- What can you do that will contribute to their wellbeing?
- What do they really, really, really want?
- How can I collaborate with them to support them to meet one or all of the needs expressed above?
- What can I do to become an additional resource, so that I can help them to achieve one or all of the outcomes above?
Collaborative selling is never about the product or service you sell. It is all about showing a meaningful interest in developing a mutually beneficial partnership, with your customers.
Get to Know people
Invest the time to get to know the people you are dealing with. Businesses do not buy products, people do. I am sure you have heard the old adage, which says “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” Learn to show real caring and approach every customer with an authentic intention to find innovative ways to “HELP” them.
When engaging in collaborative selling, sell is not spelt “SELL” it is spelt “HELP”
All customers buy using their emotions
Extensive research, which has been conducted, shows that Selling is 80 % about people and only 20 % about the product or service that you sell. This means that if you want to really excel as a sales professional, it is crucial that you become an expert on understanding people, different personality types, their decision making and thinking styles and how to effectively communicate with them.
Of course the product or service, you are trying to sell is the focal point of any sales negotiation.
The challenge is this:
- Products and services do not think, feel or make buying decisions – people do.
If you want to become an effective collaborative sales professional, it is critical that you invest time into optimizing your “EQ“. As you get a better understanding of your “EQ” and how to interpret your future customers, personality type, decision-making and thinking styles, you are equipped to connect with them on a deeper level. This will support you to delve deeper and to uncover innovative ways to integrate into their businesses and offer them the “HELP” they need.
As you get to better understand people, you empower yourself to, no longer look for ways to “CLOSE SALES”, instead you become a partner, who is there to “HELP” your future customers to make the right buying decisions, which will result in an enhanced experience for them.
Learn to Probe Effectively
Collaborative selling is about understanding how to integrate into your future customers businesses. Until you have a complete understanding around the unique needs, values and expectations, of each future customer, it is impossible to uncover how you can do that.
Invest the time to learn how to use the “questioning funnel“, which I have described in a previous article, to optimize your ability to probe effectively and you will uncover all the vital info you need to integrate into your customers businesses and to form meaningful, mutually beneficial partnerships with them.
LOSE THE SALES PITCH
Sales success is never about launching into your planned sales pitch and listing all the benefits your products or services offer. It is about getting to know what the customer needs and how you can help them satisfy this need as painlessly as possible.
The other day I went to a computer store to purchase a new computer. The sales person went into a long sales pitch, showing his great product knowledge about the speed of the computer etc. I was not interested in the speed or any of the other great features or benefits the computer offered. All I wanted to know was whether it would help me in my business, to better manage my customer relations, not how fast it was or whether it offered a fast graphics card. He did not pause long enough during his sales pitch to listen to me or my needs and so, before he had finished his well-versed “dialogue with the dead“, I thanked him for his time and left. He stood staring after me, with a startled look on his face, unaware that he had just lost a sale.
I went down the street to his competitor, who welcomed me into their store, offering me a free bottle of water to drink, while she uncovered my needs. Using the “questioning funnel“, she very quickly got a clear understanding of my needs. She showed me a number of different options, all the time asking for my input, checking to see if what she was proposing was in fact what I needed.
She soon discovered that what I really needed to achieve the outcome I wanted was not only a desktop computer, but a laptop as well. Before leaving I had purchased two computers, a laptop bag and some additional software. Her solution was perfect and has since saved me buckets of time and assisted me to improve my customer relations’ management exponentially. As you can imagine, whenever I need any computer related stuff or if anyone mentions anything related to computers or software, I don’t hesitate to refer them to Sandy.