Ask yourself these questions so your customers never have to.
Among many attributes, it takes humility, an inquisitive nature and great listening skills to be a good salesperson. Those attributes seem almost obvious, right? OK, I’ll give you that. I think what takes a little more thought and may not be as obvious is the inquisitive nature requires more than just a curiosity about how things work, how people interact and how to creatively solve problems. You also need to constantly wonder what other people are wondering, especially what your customers are wondering. This is why I titled this blog “So What?” Selling. You need to be constantly asking yourself, “So what?” You should be doing this as if your customer is the one who actually is the one is asking it. So every time you mention a product feature or new channel program you should hear your customer’s voice saying, “So what?” Every time you tell your customer about a new technology or a new solution you need to assume he’s thinking, “So what?”
Your meetings with your customers will be at least 10x more productive if you spend time before the meeting rehearsing what your approach is going to be based on the research you have done on the customers’ pains and buying process. You can then focus your rehearsal around knowing the answers to their “So Whats?” The customers will thank you for not wasting their time. Notice that I assume you research the pains and buying process for the buyers prior to your meeting. I also assume you are meeting with buyers (decision makers) and that you rehearse your meeting. I have done countless sales presentations and training and I still rehearse almost every time to some degree.
Using the “So What?” method allows you to get to the three core questions sooner in the sales meeting / conversation. For this, you should have answers to these three core questions prepared before the meeting ever starts:
1. Why do something? Have you given the customer a compelling reason for action? Have you made the customer realize a pain or competitive disadvantage he/she wasn’t aware of? This is sometimes a tough one to remember because when you are passionate about your products or solutions. They seem like a no brained solution and you may forget that you need to make a compelling presentation or “argument” for it to your customers. Not everyone sees the obviousness of the value of the solutions you provide as you do. You need to pretend that the customer knows nothing of our business and that they are always saying, “So what?” This just happened to me when I was telling people about grAVITation TECH. To me, it was so obvious that our industry needed training that I didn’t need a clear value statement, but my customer needed to hear it from me. I can’t tell you how many lessons I’ve learned from my customers.
2. Why do something now? Have you convinced your customer of the urgency of the situation? Have you even tried to? Or did you just go with the customer’s budget and timing? One of the keys to “So What?” Sales (part of the Da Vinci Sales model) is to assign urgency for the customer. You need to guide the customer in setting the expectations and understanding of the timeline. They need to have an understanding of the detrimental impact of waiting to implement your solution. By showing the customer the cost of not doing anything or delaying action, you assign urgency to the implementation of your solutions. Whether it is a continued lack or lessened productivity or loss of customers because of perceived lack of innovation (example being not invested in collaborative solutions), these examples need to be shown in strategic, political (competitive landscape), financial or cultural terms. These are the areas that people of power (decision makers) are focused. There are many ROI, TCO, ROO and other top end calculators (free from vendors in our industry) out there to use for this purpose. These are typical in selling to C-Level people, but they are helpful in making the business case and showing your strategic literacy when working with all types of key decision makers.
3. Why do it with you? Have you made the compelling case for the customer to select you as a business partner? Sure people do business with people they like but that is after all the other things are said and done. And by the way, no sales person has a relationship quota. It is great if you make a lot of friends out there but you need business partners more. So have you given the customer the compelling reasons to do business with them? These reasons have more to do with the people, programs and processes within your organization. Have you given the customer reason to believe that your people will take care of them after the sale and that your programs and processes match their needs and wants? Make sure that you talk with their purchasing, operations and support teams to see what types of programs and processes you need to offer to support the after the sale “So whats?” and make sure that is included in your offer up front. The whole idea is to answer the “So whats?” before they are ever asked.
Just imagine that there is a little version of your customer sitting on your shoulder. That little version of your customer is there while you are rehearsing in the mirror the night before or while you are driving on your way to the big meeting. He/she is there saying: “SO WHAT, SO WHAT, SO WHAT?!?!?!” If you remember that, you are half way to the big sale. Remember, half the outcome is determined by the preparation. Keep listening to that “SO WHAT, SO WHAT, SO WHAT?!?!?!” Have your answers ready and you’ll knock them dead!