By Aki Merced
This important sales approach that your reps must know might sound counterintuitive.
It’s not about having the best opening line, detailed product knowledge, or effective sales patter.
The one thing that reps should know is that the person on the other side of the line – or desk – has a perspective of their own needs that is unique.
This is something the sales rep needs to discover before they can make the sale.
Prospects are people–and people buy solutions, not pitches.
This client-centric consultative sales approach is probably the most important aspect of making a sale, especially if the sale requires a substantial commitment in time and/or money. It is somewhat of a cliché, but the most important thing to discover is: ‘what keeps the client up at night’. So, what the rep says is nowhere as important as what the rep hears.
The best sales approach depends on a multitude of factors, and there are as many sales approaches as there are sales managers. There are, however, some basic principles that apply to all.
The Rep Must Be Present
Sales reps shouldn’t be overly concerned about getting their whole prepared sales pitch in. The idea is to get the prospective client to say something that is relevant to them (i.e. the client). The sales rep then needs to have the conversation around the context in which the client sees the situation.
Everyone has a unique perspective, and if the sales rep can tap into that perspective, they have essentially ‘hooked’ the client. Everyone wants to be recognized, and that’s perhaps why the sweetest word in the English language is one’s own name.
Being present means understanding that there is a person on the other side who might very well have a need for what is being sold, but won’t see the benefits from the same perspective as the salesperson. Reps need to understand that a sale is a period of exploration and investigation, and not one of explanation.
Learning Optimism Is Crucial for Success
Martin Seligman, the author of Learned Optimism, states that it’s not that important what a client says to a salesperson that affects their mindset, but what that salesperson says to him- or herself. This is what makes the difference between a great performer and someone who is just mediocre.
How people explain things to themselves is referred to as their ‘attribution style’, and the interesting thing is that it’s not logical thinking that keeps the salesperson optimistic (and functioning optimally), but how they ‘attribute’ events.
The reason Seligman’s research is so important is twofold. Firstly, he demonstrated in a study with applicants for Metlife who scored badly on the conventional test, that those who scored well on the ASQ (attributional style questionnaire) outsold the regular group of salespeople in their second year by 57%. Secondly, reps can take the test online for free at Authentic Happiness (disregard the trivial-sounding name – this test can have a marked effect on a salesperson’s performance).
Essentially, reps who score high on the ASQ explain things differently to themselves in terms Go to the full article.