The traditional and incorrect view of the sales process as an underhanded, manipulative set of techniques for cajoling a prospect into spending too much money is outdated, with many thought leaders making only a general suggestion for salespeople to act like consultants. I think this suggestion is a little too general. Instead, an actionable goal is to make prospects feel comfortable about spending money on solutions.
Before the internet, salespeople had the advantage in most transactions. Prospects had few options for finding information about companies, and getting their hands on it could be costly.
Now, prospects can see what competing companies are doing differently. Sales thought leaders, including Hubspot and SalesHacker, recommend that salespeople act like educators and consultants to establish trust with prospects.
Being helpful is a good start, but how can salespeople drive future sales?
Prospects can find plenty of information about a company’s products and services online, but they may not know enough about the company’s industry to determine what information is most applicable to their needs. As a result, they may feel overwhelmed and confused, and hesitate to spend money.
They need help from sales reps. For example, when I’m talking with prospective clients, they sometimes reference a small aspect of what The Simons Group offers, as if that’s all we do. I clear up the misunderstanding, making it easier for them to learn more later. Education helps foster trust with prospects and increases the chance they’ll buy products and services in the future.
Every salesperson wants to close sales now, but every prospect wants to buy when ready. Some companies frame this contradiction as a game, implying that salespeople and prospects are facing off. In reality, prospects don’t want to inconvenience you, but they also don’t want to make potentially wrong decisions.
Make sure that prospects are willing to spend money. Salespeople should consider how productive were their conversations with prospective clients. When prospects become less active, that may be a signal to move on.
Make sure it fits
When solutions don’t fit with a prospect’s needs, don’t push it. Otherwise, it could jeopardize trust. When they realize they’ve been manipulated, they’ll be upset and possibly walk. If they do come back, they (rightfully) won’t trust the salespeople they were dealing with.
Instead, salespeople should be upfront when they can’t help prospective clients. Prospects will appreciate the honesty and, perhaps, see sales in a more positive light. That could open the door to future sales.
What has your experience been with the sales process? Let us know in the comments.