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I continue to hear the organization after organization talk about their focus on “solution” selling. However, after inquiring about their sales model, potential deals rarely get to the solution selling part. They build relationships, they convert them to leads, and even opportunities but they aren’t closing. In fact, when you analyze where the deal dies, it is very early. Here’s why.

What we should have learned by now from the likes of Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, Zappos, and many other disrupters is that consumers don’t want your pitch. Potential buyers want; 1) a reputable and working solution; 2) an efficient buying process; 3) product expertise and advice; 4) post-purchase support. This is precisely why your grandfather was successful. He would shake hands, look you in the eye and make darn sure you were taken care of. But that face-to-face presence doesn’t exist like it used to. Watch how your children are communicating with their friends as an example.

Whether you are buying basic merchandise or robust solutions, the potential buyers have the same basic needs.

Reputable and Working Solution (Product or Services)

Whether you are a manufacturer, service company or Value-Added Reseller(VAR), your product needs to have a strong reputation. If there is fear, uncertainty or doubt regarding your products or services, listen to the concerns and develop an action plan. If you are a VAR aligned with a poor product manufacturer, consider a change. Your business values should be aligned throughout your business partners.

This is the foundation of your business. If you are not gaining leads, consider your product alignment, market needs, and your overall market presence.

If you are a brick and mortar business, does your neighboring companies know what you do? If not, start there, it’s the neighborly thing to do.

 Efficient Buying Process

With data (think product information, reviews, etc.) being uploaded more than ever and data accessibility being higher than ever, customers are 57% through the buying process before they even contact you.

In layman’s terms, this means, they don’t need your elevator pitch, they need your expertise. By the time the customer is in contact with you, their questions are specific and much more calculated due to the research they, more often than not, have already done. Far too many organizations are inadvertently delaying access to their experts through unnecessary steps in the sales process. Meanwhile, if your competitors are bringing the “A” team to the table, you’re done.

When is the last time you quizzed your sales reps on their product knowledge? When is the last time you reviewed your sales process? Do you know what stage the bulk of your opportunities are lost in?

Product Knowledge and Expertise

While the argument can be made that engaging your product experts too early can lead to a higher cost of sale or even a lost deal, the right engagement process can mitigate this. The greater the amount of time it takes to get a buyer to the knowledge and expertise, the higher the risk of losing the buyer.

 Piggybacking off the efficient buying process, your organization needs to understand and believe in your brand. Everyone in your organization should understand your brand values and the products or services (solutions) you sell. I have witnessed countless times where customer-facing team members couldn’t describe essential product features and highlights.

Does the CFO know the solutions you sell and what your target market is? How about your customer service center? The answer might surprise you.

Post Purchase Support

If you don’t, or can’t, provide adequate post-sale support, your sale is at risk. If you made the sale, your customer is at risk. Statistics show 2it costs six to seven times more to attract a new customer than retaining an existing customer.

Post-sales support, very similar to the sales process, is getting the customer the help they need quickly. Zappos has made an entire business model (zapposinsights.com) around customer service and enabling their customer services teams.

Put yourself in the customer shoes, in fact, call into customer service some night or weekend and see what you get. Is it the same experience you want your customer to have?

As always, if you have a more immediate need, please do not hesitate to contact me.

1 57%, 5.4: CEB, “5 Statistics Every Sales Executive Must Know”, 2014,http://www.executiveboard.com/sales-blog/5-statistics-every-sales-executive-must-know/

2 It is six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. – ThinkJar