Tuesday, November 29, 2011

3 Steps To Avoid Sounding Stupid On Sales Calls

My last post for the MN AMA talked about how stupid most salespeople sound when they call repeatedly on a prospect about which they know very little. Despite their lack of knowledge, these salespeople continue to “ask for the order”. Their approach is largely doomed to failure, yet this is the approach that most salespeople use and have used for years.

Content-based selling (CBS) is a paradigm shift in lead generation and nurturing. Rather than asking the question “Will you buy,” the focus of the conversation is on what the prospect needs to know before moving ahead. The goal of the conversation is to begin the process of building TRUST, rather than achieving a quick hit sale.

The key to content-based selling lies in determining prospect information gaps and directing a stream of impartial information that addresses those needs. By delivering impartial information, you will build a position of trust–specifically, that your organization will invest time and effort in helping your prospect think through their issues without any guarantee of a sale.  Counterintuitively, when you invest in your prospect, you are increasing your chance of getting a sale.

You see, prospects today are overwhelmed with information. Across the web, there are thousands of sites with information and opinions on ways that your prospect can solve their needs. The problem is not getting information anymore. Rather it is sorting through the information and determining who and what is credible.  In many cases, when you speak with your prospect, you don't need to speak much about your product features and benefits; your prospect is already done all that research on the web beforehand.

What they're trying to figure out is whether or not they can trust you.

So let's say that you are now ready to begin to implement content-based selling. What you need to do?

There are many activities that are involved in content-based selling, but you can essentially boil them down to 3 key initiatives that will get you started:

1.    1. Focus your selling on identifying information gaps, rather than trying to identify and close a deal in the short term. I know this runs counter to traditional sales methodologies, yet this approach will yield higher returns both in the short-term and long-term. Prospects ready to buy will have few information gaps that you can readily address over a series of meetings. Prospects not ready to buy will not feel pressured, but will feel that you are collaborating with them to help meet their needs.

2.    2. Identify content in your organization that can be repurposed to meet the more common prospect information needs.  Organizations produce a broad range of content in sales materials, white papers, webinars and presentations that can be repurposed to become impartial information for content-based selling. You'll also want to find information out in the marketplace from other sources that you can use as part of your nurturing effort. This work is called “content curation”.

3.    3. Selected group of prospects with identified needs and create a pilot content e-mail campaign. After each e-mail, measure the results to see how many and which prospects are opening and clicking on the content you have made available. After several weeks, survey the prospects to see if the information is addressing their needs. Continue to improve and customize your content-based nurturing efforts based on that feedback.

Now, when your salesperson finally has a meeting with a prospect who has been receiving content, you can provide them with a list of what information that prospect has read and the date that they read it. In this way, your salesperson will have a much more informed conversation with the prospect, leading to an increased chance of a relationship and revenue.

Content-based selling has many more facets than the 3 that I have described today. Yet these 3 building blocks can lead you on your way to truly creating relationships where both your prospect and your company win, and where you personally have the increased satisfaction of knowing that you have built the most valuable currency of all with your prospects–trust.

That currency will serve you well now and in the future.

Mark Price is Managing Partner of M Squared Group, a consulting firm focused on turning customer data into insights that yield profitable actions, and the author of the blog “Cultivating Your Customers,” where he writes about practical approaches to improve customer retention and overall customer value.
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment