fredag den 4. december 2015

The secret to succesful B2B selling

By Thomas Klem Andersen, December 4th 2015

Explain why it matters
It’s often a challenge to explain what we do and why it matters to people. When it comes to our selves we tend to focus on function/role and when it comes to our products we tend to focus on features and we forget to explain why those are super interesting. Variations on this refrain is “I’m an accountant…” or “This computer has 1,2 GHz…”. Boring right? What you are really selling is the value that this role or these features provides. They will let you do something cheaper, faster, smarter, different, less, etc.

The product itself is not interesting to people. More often than not, they will be too busy or too absorbed in habitual ways of doing things to bother listen to you.

Your target customer doesn’t care if your fancy plate is round or square as long as it is full!

You need to convince your potential customer that the ground is burning underneath her feet and that you can provide a preferred alternative!

Help your customer to succeed
You don’t want to let your selling proces be driven by hunger or neediness. You don’t want it to to be driven by manipulation either, which might happen if your main focus is you and how you’ll meet your sales KPI´s. Rather your selling process should be driven by your ambition to help your customers to success. If that is your outset your sales meetings will be about the customer, the customer’s needs and whether your solution might be the right one to help your customer meet them. Your meetings will be much more calm and honest. You’ll earn more and feel better at the same time.

Your primary initial objective will be to ask your customer to help you help them by clarifying their needs.  

Spend your time well and involve the right people
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of the actual sales process. So you have the customer meeting scheduled… It’s important that you stay in control of the process. This is the trick to close the deal.

In order to do this you should divide the customer meeting in two. On the first meeting you talk to the stakeholder who owns a particular problem and on the second meeting you present your solution to the problem owner AND the decision maker!

On the first meeting you go through two phases:

1. The gentleman’s phase
Like a true gentleman you honsetly present yourself but without neglecting your merits. This is when you establish trust and earn your position as potential partner. You make it clear to your customer that you are here to help them:

”My ambition today is in colaboration with you to assess what the right solution is for your company. To this aim I’d like to begin with asking a few questions. Is that alright with you?”

1.1 The opportunity phase
The questions you ask you can structure in accordance with the CORE model:
  • Context: Get the big picture and start a dialogue about relevant problem areas.
  • Obstructions: Explore potential problems and evaluate whether the problems that you can provide solutions for are present. What are the related costs?
  • Results: Determine the specific consequences of the identified problems.
  • Expressed Needs: Let the customer confirm that it would be valuable to solve the problem.

Nice and slowly you build a business case and get your customer to describe a problem for which you can offer a valuable solution.

Your success criteria is to schedule a second meeting where the key decision makers can participate. This second meeting is crucial, because a written proposal or a telephone conversation can easily give rise to misunderstandings and jeopardize the communication at a critical stage.

”I won’t send you a written proposal, but I will prepare a presentation for you and others who will have to take part in this decision. It’s an important decision and we need to make sure that it make the right one.”

The mindset you’ll need to have in order to secure this second meeting is that you are both equally important partners in a negotiation and therefore you need to frame it accordingly. They need to comit as do you. Your time is equally valuable.

”At this point we also need something from you… We need a ”go” from your boss or whoever will have to make the final decision, that your company is interested in seeing a solution proposal for this particular problem.”

If it is not possible to have the decision maker at this second meeting you need to seriously consider if you want to buy this lottery ticket by sending a proposal or spend your time somewhere else. This of course depends on how many interesting leads you have.

”What is holding you back from saying yes to this? …so if we can fix this such and such will you arrange the meeting or buy the solution?”

Respect the three essential principles of selling
Thoughout this entire process, in order to to sell well, you need to keep an eye on three essential principples for selling. These are the fire triangle of selling:

With all this in mind, you should consider inverting the traditional sales process. Traditionally you spend the most time presenting your product and closing the deal. With the explorative mindset described above in which the ambition is to help your customer to success you’ll have to divide your time like this and in the following order: Introducing (40%), exploring (30%), presenting (20%), closing (10%).

Now go help your costumers be successful!

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