Does your sales team practice consultative selling? What’s the difference between your product’s value proposition and its USP? Are your sales meetings thoroughly prepared?
There are many bloggers out there imparting thousands of pages of sales advice. We’ve put the spotlight on 3 sales experts – Jeffrey Gitomer, Jill Konrath and Mike Weinberg – to give you some practical tips for successful selling.
Jeffrey Gitomer: The profile of the consultative salesperson is the ability to move from the ordinary, to the extraordinary
According to the author of New York Times bestsellers The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling and the 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling, the most powerful sales method is a combination of selling and consultancy.
Experienced salespeople with their own style and success in the sales arena are the ideal candidates to take on this new role. Personality, sales management capabilities and communication skills actually multiply sales opportunities. In the eyes of a potential customer, the consultative salesperson conveys confidence, demonstrating their expertise through a thorough knowledge of the sector, the product range, the industry as a whole, the competition and buying habits. This type of salesperson stands out by understanding customer needs and responding to them effectively – always with a high degree of commitment.
The consultative salesperson is an expert in the SPIN technique: Situation, Problem, Implications and Needs. They add value to their customers’ businesses by taking on the role of advisor, thus moving away from the persuasive salesperson model.
Jill Konrath: Value proposition before USP
Author of such well-known titles as “SNAP Selling” and “Selling to BIG Companies”, Jill Konrath has been asked many times which is the best focus for an elevator pitch: the USP of your product or service, or the value proposition? Both arguments are effective, she explains in her blog, but for the purpose of a brief networking opportunity the winner will always be… the value proposition.
The Unique Selling Proposition (USP), according to Konrath, is useful for demonstrating why your product is different from that of your competitors in terms of specificity or strong points. It’s therefore a valid argument to use when your prospect is deciding which of several options to buy.
The value proposition, on the other hand, can be used when a potential client is not ready to change the status quo. It’s designed to create a potential need as it directly presents the benefits of the product, and how that product improves operating efficiency. If you convey the sales arguments convincingly, the prospect will think, “This is really interesting, I need to know more about it!”
Given that 95% of potential clients are not actually planning on making a decision, the value proposition will give them the nudge they need to decide.
Mike Weinberg: Sales calls without a previously planned structure are not worth doing.
There are still sales teams out there who believe preparing the sales meeting can make the call appear mechanical. Nothing could be further from the truth. Author of New Sales Simplified, Weinberg explains that too many salespeople confuse the sales call or visit with a product presentation. In reality, it’s the moment to discover the prospect’s pain points, and how your product can help increase their business opportunities.
To prepare the meeting well, bring together your team and ask them the following:
- Tell me about the person we’re meeting today.
- Why have they agreed to meet us?
- What’s our objective? What would a successful outcome be?
- What image do we want to give of our company?
- What messages do we want to convey about what it’s like to work with us? What added value can we bring them?
- How can we show them they can have confidence in us?
There may be more questions you need to ask. Which do you consider the most difficult to answer? Use the list to prepare your next sales call and you’ll feel more confident – and be in a better position to spark the prospect’s interest.