Sales masterclass learns valuable sales conversation framework
2022 will be a year when leaders are open to change. Board rooms and CEOs are huddled in meetings: “Let’s not let this crisis go to waste!” as once-in-a-generation opportunities open up.
So what does this mean for salespeople?
Only 3% of buyers actively search for new products and services, yet 40% are open to change, says global sales expert Tony Hughes at this week’s masterclass The New Rules of Sales Success.
Helping customers through change
Ranked by Top Sales Magazine as the most influential person in professional selling in Asia-Pacific, the speaker and author of Combo Prospecting and Tech Powered Sales says change opens up opportunties to make a positive difference to others.
Tony shared the story of Flight Centre. When planes were grounded during COVID-19, executives stayed in contact with corporate customers to help them through the change. They found added cost savings for clients, and shared information that helped them review their travel policies.
Sales, Tony says, is “all about the other person’s improved results, their business case to fund change, and their risk mitigation.”
Getting a sale is rarely ever about price. One fascinating Gartner survey of 3000 buyers asked what made the difference with who they selected to buy from. Price got only 9% of the vote, brand was 18%, features and benefits 18%, and engagement experience a whopping 53%.
Buyers gave answers like “they educated us on the business case, where the risks were, and our team had confidence we would work well together.”
Tony says sales is about Mindset – Message – Method. He lists 5 key elements as the foundation on which all success is built on.
Clarity on your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
What does my ideal target client look like?
Understand how those people are measured in their roles and what their typical priorities are.
Narrative and questions
What does value mean to them and what questions lead me to that?
A combination of outreach to break through, pattern interrupt. Have a human conversation. Don’t just post on social media.
What elements can you outsource to technology? Don’t depend on being valued in what can be automated away. Don’t waste your precious time doing what machines can do.
What buyers expect
Modern selling means getting to know the customer and their business intimately. Committing to equip your salespeople with commercial acumen is one of the most important things you can do in 2022. Buyers expect: 1. You know them. 2. You’ll personalise everything for them. 3. You’ll anticipate their needs.
Trigger events are powerful ways to demonstrate how you can meet buyer needs (“Wow, they know me!”). Look out for events such as a new executive hire, a merger, a promotion, a new product launch.
“Whenever a supporter of yours leaves and goes elsewhere, follow them,” says Tony. “Say congratulations, I’d like to catch up…”. Then reach out to the person who replaced them. “I worked closely with your predecessor and I've got ideas that give you a few quick wins in the role.” Make your conversation helpful from the beginning.
Here's Tony's conversation framework:
Introduce yourself briefly
Tony’s sales conversation framework starts with introducing yourself briefly, then going straight to “The reason for my call is…:” Talk naturally. Don’t ask ‘Is this a bad time to call?’ as they may say yes to get you off the phone.
Contextualise and personalise
Use a trusted referral, trigger event, or a relevant attribute: “Hey I noticed you hired 12 new salespeople….and I’ve got some ideas on how you could potentially…and in a way that….”
Ask an insightful open question.
Hero them, not yourself. Instead of talking about your product or service, ask about them. “How much pipeline coverage have you got in the business?” “And how does that compare with what you’re trying to achieve?” Go deeper but don’t talk about your product. Ask insightful open questions. Look for signs they’re engaged.
Close for progression
Be a true believer in the value you offer, the buyer profile, and the buyer persona to help counter feelings of rejection. Have lots of opportunities in the pipeline, and you’ll be okay with the odd bit of conflict or tension. Aim to have drivers in the sales roles, not amiable people who don’t like conflict. Most of all, though, they need to be about the customer being successful.
Andrew Nisbet was a “young kid” when he started selling plumbing parts at Reece.
“Like most salespeople, I wasn’t taught anything but told ‘go and sell'," the Growth Faculty Leadership Pass holder tells us from his home in Melbourne.
Good and bad habits
"Along the way I developed all sorts of habits, good and bad,” he remembers of his 40 years at the company. Now Managing Director of sales strategy consulting firm Shift Perspective and author of The Art of Relationship Selling, Andrew says a good habit was developing trusting relationships. A bad habit was leading with price; “thinking it was so important” in a customer’s decision process to buy.
“It fed a confirmation bias that it was all about price, and that took a bit to break,” he said.
The mistake of start-up founders
Andrew sits on boards for Coventry Group, Middy’s electrical wholesalers and the Reece Foundation. As a result, he gets asked to sit in on pitch presentations from start-up founders. What he notices is how few make an effort to understand why he, Andrew, has been asked to sit in.
“They present the features and benefits and they think I should jump out of my skin and run to my CEOs,” he says. “But the priorities that they’re solving for may not be high on my priority list. Customers aren’t that good at connecting the dots between your features and benefits and how it will benefit their problems and needs.”
The pandemic and sales
On the pandemic, Andrew says it’s thrown salespeople into a tailspin, “They think ‘If I can’t take coffee and doughnuts how do I keep the relationship alive?’,” he says. Good salespeople keep it personal. They send customers a TED Talk and say “I was thinking about you when I was watching this, it might be good for the problems you’re facing.” Salespeople who can cut through the noise are worth their weight in gold, he says.
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