Sales, version Web 2.0: In the new economy, sales strategies have undergone a transformation. Interactive technology, real-time data and online ordering (among other things) have dramatically changed what it takes to win in sales.
When it’s time to get down to business, whoever tells the best story wins. What’s yours? Here’s the Sales 2.0 game plan, from sales consultant and national elevator pitch champion, Chris Westfall.
- Trusted Advisor – the Trusted Advisor says, “Maybe we aren’t the right fit for you. But, I’ll help you find someone who is…” This approach shows a long-term focus, not a short term/get the sale now-mindset. Progressive.com is a good online example – if they’re not a fit for your insurance needs, they’ll provide you with other options. In a Web 2.0 world, assume full information is available to your customer. Lack of knowledge might get you an order, but it’s no way to build a relationship. Trusted advisors keep clients informed.
- The Fixer – A useful strategy when correcting the mistakes of a past vendor. Batting cleanup can be profitable, if you really can unscrew all of the prior screw-ups. But be careful: Clients can be especially touchy in these scenarios – running the gamut from “Thank God you’re here!” to “God &X*it, why are we paying for this twice?!”
- Painless Process – show how your solution avoids more pain than the competition, or the status quo. A delicate balance is required here, because – while the results may be presented as relatively painless, transitions never are. Selling on pain avoidance means you may have to concentrate heavily on the “how” – delivering your service in a way that justifies your sales claims.
- The Online Master– an easier web experience means it’s easier to do business with your company. Winning online can pose a significant advantage in terms of speed, reduced cost, and overall customer satisfaction.
- High-Touch Strategy – A good one to use in combination with the Online Master, because people want to know what happens when technology won’t (or can’t) deliver. Even if your website is bullet proof and Six-Sigma “on”, what happens when customers color outside of the lines with an unusual request – or, if they just aren’t all that tech-savvy? Standing behind your online promises is key to being perceived as the best.
- The Contrarian – this sales strategy starts off with the worst-case scenario. It’s particularly effective with a tough customer – when their mindset is, “this will never work.” You start off with in agreement, acknowledging their concerns, then showing your thought process as you change your mind. “When I first heard of Solution X for your company, I thought it would never work, because of [business reason #1]. But, then I thought about it further, and I realized that your company could overcome [business reason #1] because of [selling point #1]. But, that can’t be the whole story. I also thought it wouldn’t be a fit because of [business reason #2], but I realized that the risks there could be minimized if we did [selling point #2] and [selling point #3]…”
- The Ben Franklin – a tried and true strategy that still works today: Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. List out the positive outcomes of your solution on the left side, potential negatives on the right. Did you build a business case, or just unsell yourself? A great strategy to use BEFORE you call on your customer. Do you know their business well enough to guess what they would put on their sheet?
- The Abe Lincoln – Honest Abe tried thousands of law cases before he became President, and he was famous for arguing BOTH sides of the case in his opening statements. More often than not, he would present the merits of the other case better than opposing counsel. Building on that platform, he proceeded to show that (even in the face of adversarial circumstances) his client deserved the outcome that Lincoln wanted. Tell your competition’s story before they get the chance, and you have instant competitive advantage. But: drag your competitor through the mud, and you’ll just end up getting dirty. Honest facts are the key to your success.
- The Referral Sale – using connections to similar customers, this strategy is based on the idea that your product or service has worked for other similar companies. Benchmarks don’t have to be big names – in fact, companies of similar size and scope are often better than throwing out Fortune 500 examples.
- Service Sells – explaining (usually through referrals, but always by example and with hard data and evidence) how your customer service is superior to other alternatives. Today, more than ever, even the most traditional brick and mortar manufacturing business is a service business. Customers that buy you want to know what happens after they buy. Quality is continuous; it doesn’t stop on the loading dock when a product arrives.
- ROI Strategy – calculate the return before you ask for the investment. Shows knowledge of your customer’s business, and your understanding of the impact of your solution. Your product is the “what”, your delivery is the “how” and the ROI is “why”, in the sales process.
- Similar Values – family matters still matter. If you’re a family-owned business, or otherwise connected to your customer via shared values, networking or organizations, that connection can open the door to a sale. But, your value proposition still has to be compelling – you can’t trade only on relationships.
For more strategic sales advice – designed for you or your organization – contact Westfall and Associates today for a free consultation.