With over a decade of sales and presales experience, I strongly believe that the secret of success for a Salesperson is “Never to sell anything to customers”. People do not buy products or services, instead they buy you.
What do I mean by this statement?
A successful salesperson instills confidence and can charm everyone to sell any stuff. They usually are charismatic and passionate about their work.
“The #1 reason customers buy from you isn’t service, selection, quality or price — it’s your confidence! (Guerilla Selling)”
Most importantly, they focus to make their clients succeed by understanding their company’s mission, values, and vision. Clients want to know that you have understood their goals and business. They should feel assured that you care about them than your own sales numbers.
When the customer feels connected to the Sales opportunity, a close bonding is established. You cannot manipulate this bond. It comes out of legitimate interest and involvement and eases the gap to build a bridge between you and the client.
At this level of interest, you can sell anything to anyone. But paradoxically, it doesn’t come across as “selling” because there is no product or service at the forefront. Instead, there is a personality, an intelligent and compelling human being, developing a bond with one another.
So, how do you know when you have achieved this special bonding with your customers and clients?
Such customers with whom you have established this special bond, often approach you for advice on issues related to the service or product or business. This happens over a period of time and they will truly enjoy your company. They will be more than willing to refer you to their business associates for more business. Your relationship evolves into a form that cannot be defined by an order or a transaction.
The sales team needs battle cards. They are a staple in most B2B sales teams. And they serve one purpose: To help sales reps convince prospects to pick your product over the competition.
In a competitive world full of smart and hard-working people, what sets you apart from this competition stays forever in the minds of your customers and helps you grow in business. To prove a point to close a deal in business, the Sales has to come up with new ideas and tools and win the battle against competition. One such critical tool in the sales arsenal in this never-ending battle is the Battlecard.
What is a Sales Battlecard?
Battlecards are short, sales-ready documents that provide a deeper understanding of a specific competitor’s marketing strategy, key sales messages, product information and tactical value propositions to use when selling against your competitors. It provides your sales team with a competitive displacement “cheat sheet”. They break down the necessary information effectively and efficiently.
Why does the sales team need battle cards?
Battlecard is the tool that’ll help you convince prospects to pick you over the competition. It arms you with specific information that can help combat buyer’s objection. In simple terms, when sales reps have stats, figures, and other specific, substantive information to point to while combating potential customers’ objections, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to close deals.
Who creates Battle Cards?
The onus is on the marketing team in your organization to create the Battlecards. However, it is not an easy task to create this all alone without inputs from various stakeholders. Product Managers, Pre-sales, Business development, and to some extent, customer support should share responsibility with the Marketers to create such battle cards.
As an end-user, you are expected to share feedback with Marketing team constantly so as to keep sharpening this battle card to enable the sales to face the battle with great confidence.
New competitors prop-up quite often and existing competitors change their products or offers. Your battle cards will need to change as and when competition changes. So, you should be continually sharing feedback on what’s working (and what isn’t) and updating your sales battle cards accordingly. It is a live document that should be evaluated regularly to ensure that it’s a relevant and useful tool for your sales team.
At the end of the day, the sales battle card needs to work.
Easily said than done. It is not an easy task to create a strong battle card. I have shared my thoughts on what, why, and who about the battle card. With respect to how to develop a battle card, I recommend this article by ForteConsultancy
I had an interesting discussion with my friend on this topic – “Sell your customers what they need and not what you want” – the one that I shared a few weeks back on my blog. He chose to disagree with me on this by referring to the quote
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford
Customers know what they want, but don’t know how to articulate it.
In fact, customers would probably have told Ford exactly what they wanted — a faster mode of transportation. Customers might not have mentioned the need for a combustion engine, but that’s part of the art of understanding customers. They may not be aware of the options available to them but they often understand their problems.
Ask specific questions that allow you to gain insights into their business problem. Avoid feature-based questions, because customers aren’t thinking about technology features. They are worried to save costs and time in these tough times.
At the same time, avoid multiple-choice questions. Giving a customer too many choices often nets you poor feedback, but it’s also important to give them the opportunity to bring up something you haven’t anticipated.
While the quote might have been embellished over time or even misattributed to Ford, I think we need to stop using the phrase outside of its specific context. It doesn’t mean that the customer is wrong. It means we need to synthesize what they say and think more broadly about where it might take us.
Don’t keep your customers waiting. In this article, I want to discuss whether Zero Wait Time is a reality or a myth?
At the gym
I am a fitness freak and prefer to do my workout at the gym in isolation. That’s when you will have all thoughts running from pillar to post in your brain. On a pleasant Saturday afternoon, I noticed a few prospects waiting at the gym to inquire about the Fitness Plans. The front desk, after all the busy morning schedule, had gone for lunch and there was no sign of return anytime sooner. After a long wait, the prospects walked into the gym to check the facilities. They looked satisfied with all those equipment at the gym and made their way to the reception, all again to wait for a few more minutes.
I didn’t even notice when they left. They found their way out before the Front desk arrived. Do you think the prospects would have come on a later date to enroll themselves for the Fitness plans at the gym? I guess not.
This episode made me think why not write a blog on ‘Why wait times are bad?’.
In this fast-paced world, wait times are excruciating. The queue at the billing counter in supermarkets/hypermarkets, waiting to be seated at a restaurant, a long and an impatient wait before food is served at your table, queue at the Saloon for a haircut or a massage, await at the ATM to withdraw or deposit your money, wait on the phone to talk to a Contact Center agent – the list is endless and there can be many more such examples where customers/consumers do not prefer to wait until their turn. I wouldn’t blame the customer here for his impatience, instead, the business is at stake of losing their customers for not providing a wholesome experience.
“Contact center surveys say that, while in 2014 customers were willing to wait for 13 minutes, in 2017, most customers wait less than 2 minutes. Now, more and more customers expect no hold time. If they don’t get a human, 34% of customers hang up and never call back”.
Banks have found ways to enhance the customer’s banking experience. Online banking, Mobile banking, Instant Money transfer, cashless pay, etc. – there has been a lot of innovations going on in the banking industry to improvise user experience. Virtual assistants have drastically reduced the wait time at banks and contact centers.
The leaders in business have to come up with innovative and efficient ways in order to enhance the customer experience. You tend to lose a customer if you have made him wait over and above his cut-off time and this time varies from business to business and from person to person. Hence, I would advise following a nearly-zero-wait time for all your customers so as to stay ahead of your competition and establish a long-lasting customer relationship.
In today’s world, customers are knowledgeable than we may think. The advancement of technology has made everyone’s life more sophisticated. For a customer-centric and an enthusiastic consultant like me, the need to sell what the customer wants takes a front seat in this ever-competitive market. Businesses need to restructure their sales strategy. The focus should shift to building a long-lasting relationship than being a one-time affair.
Let me share a recent, quite interesting incident that substantiates the above statements and also proves my point that Customer is my primary focus.
I was at this customer place for a software consultation. My job was to help them streamline their activities in tune with the value offered by the product, thereby easing out their daily IT operations. Quite a few minutes into the meeting, I was able to identify that there had been a mismatch in the product edition sold than what was actually needed. All they needed was the basic edition of the software, thanks to the Salesperson who was keen to fill only his bank balance with commissions, the highest edition of the software was sold to them.
For the last couple of years, they have never used the product to its fullest potential. Neither do they have any plans to use the additional features than what was available in the basic edition? After a few rounds s of meeting with the top management and consultation, I helped them with the right choice of the product.
Sales sold what they want
I couldn’t help stop the mockery here but wonder how the customer ended up purchasing a product which they really didn’t need. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone reading my experience points out that the Salesperson was the decision-maker than the customer himself.
This boils down to the next big thing – does the Salesperson stand a chance to sell anything better or bigger to the same customer? The answer is in the negative.
Sell what customers want and build a relationship
The salesperson would have won the customer for life had he/she not been greedy. All that was lacking here was a little bit of patience and deep knowledge of Customer Experience and Satisfaction. The initial trust and relationship built would have actually helped the salesperson earn more than enough in their lifetime than the commission they received for a one-time sale.
To summarise, Customers are looking for people who can don the dual role of problem-solver and project-planner rather than someone who is just keen to fill his bank balance. Therefore, sales should sell the customers what they need, not what you want.
I would like to reiterate the quote below from my previous blog.
“Make a sale, you’ll make a living. Build a relationship, you will create a fortune.”
By developing your relationship-selling skills, you’ll position yourself as a partner who sells value, which will make you stand out from those sales reps who just try to push products down their client’s throats.
“Make a sale, you’ll make a living. Build a relationship, you will create a fortune.”
Sales are imperative for growing any business. Without sales, businesses struggle to survive in today’s competitive environment. However, traditional sales techniques like ‘Always be closing’, cause businesses to fall behind without a futuristic growth.
Before I share my opinions, I’m adding some stats from Hubspot on creating a positive sales experience, according to buyers.
Listen to their needs (69%)
Don’t be pushy (61%)
Provide relevant information (61%)
Respond in a timely manner (51%)
Sales techniques like ABC emphasize heavily to bulldoze through a sale. But, this increases the risk of losing the overall business as the requirements are not fully understood. The customer experience is quite dissatisfactory and this will cause a large impact on the reputation of the business.
A Sales Superstar knows that a customer is for life. He takes mammoth efforts to build an ever-lasting relationship with the customer and that is what you call a positive Customer Experience. I have had the luckiest opportunity to work with many such Superstars. The conversation between them is quite interesting to observe as itfocuses more on the customer’s problems and interests rather than a forced sales pitch.
Experienced salesperson represents themselves as a knowledgeable person with solid domain expertise in the service they offer. Customers tend to listen to such an expert and this will make a huge impact on their purchasing decision and improve their outlook about the company. Trust and confidence are built forever before the deal is signed.
“After a positive experience, 83% of customers would be happy to provide a referral”(source).
Don’t jump the gun by pushing through a sale. Instead, tailor the sales process to create a sense of control thus making it easy for the customers to feel that they are purchasing an experience instead of a service.