Today more than ever, I really believe that we need to humanize the customer experience. After the year we’ve been through we’re all longing for more authentic connections. According to a report from PwC: Human interaction matters now—and 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want more of it in the future (you can read the whole report here – it’s a good read!)
As you read this article, you may think – of course that’s common sense. Very true, but common sense is not always common practice. We’re all in sales, fundamentally, we’re selling ourselves first (ideas, recommendations, insights…), our company and solutions second. By and in large people want to have a relationship with someone they like, respect and trust. The key is to replace selling with helping, sharing and solving and looking for ways to create an emotional connection and win-win with our customers… and we will never have to sell again!
For some of you when you think of selling – the first thought that comes to mind is having a pushy salesperson who is trying to get you to buy something (and hopefully you don’t work with sales folks like that) and no one likes the experience of being sold to. The old model was based on the premise that, you as a salesperson, needed to outsmart your potential customer and sell hard in order to get them to buy. It was almost like a tug of war. And that kind of selling is so over and done with!
In contrast, have you ever watched individuals speak and found yourself listening to every word they said? You felt yourself being drawn in. It happened because they were being genuine, real and authentic. Sales today is about authenticity, empathy and genuinely seeking to understand our customers’ challenges and desires so we can bring value, perspective and solutions to make their life better and easier (hence why customer success teams are, for the most part, very good at selling because we don’t sell!).
The focus is on the Human Element. And the Human element is often the missing link in a more traditional sales process. Our objective is to get the focus off of ourselves and focus a whole heartedly on the other person.
1) Building TRUST
Here is what matters. As you know, your customers want to build a relationship first. The relationship is way more important than your product or service. You should assume that your customers could buy something similar at a comparable price from someone else. But, the one and only thing, they cannot get by buying from one of your competitors is YOU. YOU are the biggest differentiator. You have to make the most of it. You have to find ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Two of the best ways to differentiate yourself are to concentrate on the relationship and not on the sale, and to remember that people buy feelings. They buy from people that make them feel good and valued. Trust is a critical factor in building any relationship, and the quality of a relationship is in direct proportion to the level of trust that exists between you and the other person.
2) Needs Identification (what are their pains / challenges? And find their Why?)
In number one, we talked about building trust and the best way to develop trust is to focus on the customer needs and the delivery of value. And you do that by asking relevant questions and by intently listening to the answers. In other words, you make the conversation about them and not about you. Make sure you ask questions to really understand their pains, challenges and their current situation – what they can and cannot achieve by maintaining the status quo. And when you do that, an interesting phenomenon happens, the customer starts to make a mental shift and they start to help you help them. Remember people buy what they want and then they justify the purchase by convincing themselves that they needed it in the first place.
3) Your solution – Focus on value and desired outcome
Present the product(s) or service(s) that match the needs that have been identified in number 2 and clearly demonstrate how your solution will address the gap between where they are currently to where they desire to go. You will highlight how your solution is going to make their life better or easier, the desired outcome they will achieve by using it and the ongoing value they will receive. Focus on the need to have versus the nice to have. And remember, people and companies buy results and experiences not features.
The last phase is The Close
While you (or your AE) will still need to ask for the order (so to speak), by using this way of selling, asking for the order will feel like a normal progression, more like a conversation, and not something you will have to wrestle with as much. And you may ask for the order by saying something like: When would you like to get started? Which options would suit your needs the best? When would you like to achieve this benefit by? And make it convenient for the customer to buy, and how he/she wants to buy and pay.
In summary selling is all about building trust, identifying needs and showing your customer how your product or service will help them improve their life.