At the beginning of my sales career one of my first sales managers assured me, “Andy, selling is simple. It’s sure not easy. But, it is simple.”
Well, sales should be simple. But usually it isn’t.
The most effective way to simplify your selling is to make sure that you truly understand your customers’ buying objectives. And, then, make certain that you selling processes are aligned to those objectives.
Your customers will necessarily have defined business objectives for the products and services that they are evaluating for purchase. These could include achieving a certain internal rate of return on the investment in your product, improving the productivity of their operations, reducing their costs of goods or achieving a certain level of ongoing costs savings.
But, customers also have buying objectives for the products they are evaluating for purchase. Acquiring a product or service is a task to be achieved. It is an item on a to-do list. What do people want to do with items on their to-do list? That’s right. They want to check it off as completed and remove it from their list as soon as they can.
To accomplish this, customers need to gather the information they need from potential suppliers (i.e. salespeople) in order to make an informed purchase decision. In his best-selling book, Talent is Overrated, author Geoffrey Colvin noted that “Getting information pushes at the two constraints everyone faces: it takes time and costs money. Making sound decisions fast and at a low cost is a competitive advantage everywhere.”
Your customer’s buying objective is to make sound decisions fast and at a low cost.
The largest cost item in gathering the information they need about your product is the time of the people involved. This is time that could be spent on other more profitable activities. In short, your customers want to get the information they need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible.
This is where you come in. If you want to simplify your selling, and increase your chances of success with your customers, then you need to align your selling process to help them achieve their buying objective.
What it means for salespeople
You need to strip away every extraneous sales activity or sales interaction with the customer that doesn’t directly contribute to their gathering of necessary information and move them at least one step closer to making a decision. Salespeople have to be prepared to deliver the maximum value each and every time they interact with their customers (irrespective of the method that they are employing – phone, email, social, text, video or in-person calls.)
What it means for sales managers
This also means that you, as a sales manager, have to define and implement standards for responsiveness and follow-up that have the customer at their core. Instead of using sales processes that are designed for your own convenience, you need to increase the ready availability of your people, your experience and expertise to your customers. For example, this could mean establishing metrics for responsiveness and follow-up that are measured in minutes instead of hours or days. Or, it could mean holding your sales meetings and sales coaching sessions outside of prime selling hours when your customers are most likely to need to contact their salesperson.
Take a minute now and write down two steps you could immediately take to improve the alignment of your selling with how your customers want to buy. Choose just one of the two ideas and implement it in your selling today. Before you do anything else.
Make the extra effort to align how you sell with how your customers make their decisions, and your world will get a little simpler. And a lot more productive.
Andy Paul is the author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. He is also the founder/CEO of Zero-Time Selling, Inc. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts training, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to provide selling strategies that maximize the value, responsiveness and speed of their sales processes.