My manager reminded our team of an important truth in our weekly huddle: ‘We are not trying to sell as much as help enable our client to purchase software.’
While we do work in ‘sales’ – the concept of sales is really the end result of our efforts. Contrary to popular belief, Sales Professionals shouldn’t be focused as much on selling – as they should on HOW they can help solve client problems.
The dictionary defines ‘sales’ as: the exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something.
Yes we do sell a product when we close a deal, but sales professionals who only focus on selling aren’t building value. Their only focus is closing the deal quickly, without truly focusing on the client need(s). Sure they can throw around features and pitch to sentiment – but their only focus is getting cash exchanged on the transaction – whether it benefits the client or not.
Too many technology sales professionals lean into the mall kiosk tactics – feature pitching, forceful selling, fear selling…While this may lead to some quick transactions it always backfires. Why? Clients may purchase when they feel pressured, but given time they will usually come back to complain/ask for a refund. Churn is through the roof, but you the sale wasn’t based on value – it was driven by pressure and focus on the quick sell.
I want to clarify that having a more transaction sales cycle isn’t necessarily bad. Some products including software are meant to be presented and sold quickly based on client need and budget.
I also will say that many bad actors (sales persons without tactic and client focus) actually don’t do it on purpose. Mostly it comes from lack of training. Of course you have your ‘Wolves’ but 90% of bad sales people I’ve worked with just didn’t know a better way. They were either trained inappropriately or instinctively pushed into ‘pressure’ sales because they didn’t understand value. They compensate by arguing about price and selling the kitchen sink – even if you are selling dishwashers.
As sales professionals – it is important to reflect on your sales style and not be afraid to grow into a counselor sales professional.
I also encourage managers to focus on trainings empowering your team to work as a customer partner in the sales journey – focusing on HOW you can improve the client’s ROI and HOW your solution brings meaningful impact to the organization. The more you learn to partner with the client and speak to value based on their unique needs – the more your solution will ‘sell’ itself.
HOW do we go from the stereotypical sleazy sales person to a Consultant and Counselor Sales Person?
It starts with the client experience and how you can address their business objectives. Make it less about your product and more about them. This doesn’t mean you don’t discuss and focus on how your product works – rather instead of selling features – you are aligning how your solution can solve their problems.
You are inviting the client into this journey – counseling them as an industry expert – whose primary focus is not getting the sale – but rather helping them to solve a problem. In doing this you build value by telling the client HOW you can help and showing them the solution that can resolve their pain.
In this process you can invite the client to tell you how your solution can impact their business. You have an authentic dialogue. They trust you because you don’t have an endgame of manipulation to the contract. You instead are able to skillfully argue the value and show how you can help – so the client is able to make an informed decision.
It seems counter intuitive to say that as a salesperson you are not tied to the outcome as much as the process of consulting your client. We get paid on the sale – so should we strive for that at all costs? Yes and no. Yes your end goal is ‘selling your solution’ – but you should not reach that destination without putting the client’s best interest at the center of the negotiation.
Sometimes you may have to walk away if your solution is not a fit – that is a hard truth to swallow. But it also establishes brand trust – both your professional brand and your companies brand.
Several times I had to advise a client that for various reasons we weren’t a good fit for a project. They appreciated the candor. When they had another project come up that my company was an ideal fit for it lead to an even larger deal than originally anticipated because they trusted our company. Sometimes it is a long game and that’s okay.
I will be focusing on Counselor Sales in March.
Two of my favorite Counselor/Solution Selling books are SPIN Selling and Wilson’s Win-Win Selling. They are both worth investing in and keeping by your desk.
Both lay out strong foundations on HOW you can grow as a consultative sales professional.
I encourage you to FOCUS on HOW you can serve as a consultant on your next client call. I look forward to hearing about your HOW in the field.
Until next time…