Stephen Covey’s Best Selling Strategy Secrets: Talk about Results, Not About Your Product | Clarke Inc. Creative Marketing & Print Communication
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Stephen Covey’s Best Selling Strategy Secrets: Talk about Results, Not About Your Product

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Stephen Covey said, “Results matter! They matter to your credibility.” If you don’t have credibility your chance of closing a sale is entirely shot.

Selling is not about you, your product, or your company. So, stop pitching along those lines. It’s about results. It’s about what former customers have gained, and legitimate outcomes for the prospective client.

Don’t start with spouting numbers off the cuff. I’m not talking sharing case study figures from five years ago. Instead, investigate their goals, plans, challenges, and timeline. Then provide documented evidence of what’s possible in partnership with your company.

When the numbers are real, the results become real.

Successful sales people no longer thrive on simple, trusted services. That’s a commodity, not a differentiator. Growing businesses want innovative, expansive and—above all—solution-based vendors.

Check out the following tips to make what you have sell like hotcakes, and set your brand apart in the market.


What’s the Problem?

Most people won’t tell you what their real problems are. Not because they are into secrets. They simply don’t have a complete understanding of their business’ challenges. They are in the trees and can’t see the forest.

But you must see the forest. It’s your job to help fill in the blanks – what keeps their company, and their personal success, from advancing.

We aren’t talking about solving problems they don’t have to make a sale. You are challenging them to deal with root causes which impact the results of future activities, including your service or product.

Often, you’ll find some of their hurdles are things your company can’t fix. However, if you’ve helped them discover the barriers, that gives you credibility. Go the extra mile and recommend resources external to your company to fill the gap.

Using this approach gives you a solid foundation for making a sale, and creates a long-term relationship with the customer. It’s all about them, and not you. But, everyone wins.

Sales Action Step: Think critically about the information given when talking challenges. Have them share from the perspective of people, process, system, and policy. Look for red flags, things that might impede the results of your business solution. Address and solve the hurdles together. It’s guaranteed to be an issue no matter what vendor they select. So, make your company the preferred one by helping in this manner.

Micro Actions Indicate Macro Goals

Most buyer behavior studies reference consumers who purchase for personal reasons.  However, their findings are just as valid for B2B sales. All purchases are made for personal reasons.  Selling has become human-to-human (H2H) rather than B2B or B2C.

Today’s B2B sales experts are using typical buyer personas and analytics to determine a client’s macro needs based upon micro behaviors. Behaviors such as website pages visited, content downloaded, and videos streamed, and even small purchases. Small goals depict significant business needs, regardless of how disjointed the two may seem.

A prospect’s need for immediate and inexpensive information or purchases often indicates they are fixing a big problem with band-aids. It’s a misalignment between actions and outcomes.

Your role is to redirect them through factual education. Present solutions for quick successes in tandem with long-term advantages. Make your offering centric to their management of operations, or sales and marketing.

Sales Action Step: Gather intelligence based on your ideal customer profile. What micro activities are typical in a band-aid approach? Document these so you can actively look for prospects behaving in that manner. Find and use sources of intelligence (website analytics, referral partners, social media) to generate and nurture leads.

Estimate Their ROI

Businesses need to spend money to make money. Your clients aren’t purchasing products and services needlessly. They’re making investments.

Their need for your services is typically higher than their demand for it because they don’t understand its full value. That said, you won’t be able to articulate all the potential benefits of your product in one fell swoop. Instead, support your claims by estimating their ROI.

To do so, you must understand their market space. Consider the competition, the economy, and the industry’s overall health. Don’t use broad sweeps, either. Instead, stay as narrow as possible so you can use legitimate numbers in your calculations.

Keep in mind your company’s direct competition and substitute products in the market. Prospects are easily distracted by lower prices tags which are perceived to boost ROI. No company is actively seeking to spend more, but they will if there’s a substantiated promise of stellar outcomes. They will also avoid spending money on mediocre options.

If it hasn’t been done before, survey your best customers, adjacent businesses, and industry decision makers. Figure out the decision-making process for purchasing, and assess the sensitivity of prices, product features and—of course—desired results.

Sales Action Step: A great sales person will help their prospective customer either save money or make more of it. In your uncomplicated presentation of ROI, outline the hard numbers (lifetime value, profit margin, the speed of return), and highlight the soft advantages (workplace morale, increased brand loyalty, employee retention). Separating the two strengthens their statements. Blending muddles the numbers.

The Zero Action Problem

Ever present a superb case for a sale, and nothing happens? Heads nod and smile, but zero action takes place. I see non-action as the most common reason for sales not closing. The cost of change isn’t worth the outcome.

It’s not what you’re saying that’s wrong, you are talking to the wrong prospects. Today’s buyers are loyal to companies who partner with them in their accomplishments. Even the temptation of lower prices won’t “disrupt” a vendor like this. The value they deliver is more than a number; it’s personal.

Don’t bother with companies who are truly happy in their relationship. There are significantly more companies dealing with crappy services and people. If they fully understand what change can bring, they will take action.

Your job in sales is to create this revelation; to bring insight and value to each interaction with them. Yes, you will still run into hard-headed idiots who can’t set aside their pride for one minute to let go of “good” and reach for “best.”

You don’t need them.

Sales Action Step: Save your energy for the folks who need you and will give you enough time to explain why your company can offer them the results they seek. Limit your time spent on deals hard to close because they are already “happy” with their vendor, or they aren’t a customer you really want anyway.

In what other ways do you explain value to your prospects?  Please post them in the comments section below.

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Victor Clarke

Victor began a 30+ year career in sales and marketing with Xerox Corporation following his graduation from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has sold copiers, word processing systems, computers, print, mail and graphic design. In addition, he advanced from a street wise sales person, to the Director of Federal, State, Local and Education Sales, to the owner of his own company. He has been the owner of Clarke, Inc. for 20+ years evolving it from a dedicated print shop to an inbound and outbound marketing firm. We deliver epic marketing truth every day for our clients. We provide real solutions for real businesses. If you want the marketing pretty boys, we’re not it.

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