Manage episode 374365958 series 2952524
Every professional salesperson has a set script of how the sales call will run. Amateur salespeople just turn up and don’t try to direct the action. Having a set script means we know what will happen during the call, what the stages will be, what we will say at certain points, what we want to know from the client and how the call will conclude.
We have already worked out how to be charming in the small talk component of the call at the very start and how to get the client to do the talking, so we can gauge their personality style, allowing us to adjust our own style to better suit them. We know when to bridge into our credibility statement, so that the client will know they can trust us and that we are totally unlike all of the unprofessional salespeople they have dealt with thus far.
We will move on to the questioning phase to try and understand if we have what they need or not. If we do, then we introduce our solutions based around what they have told us and nothing more. We will ask for the order to test their reaction and if we get objections, then we know how to handle those calmly and smoothly, again asking for the order.
This is how it is supposed to run. Sometimes however the client doesn’t follow the script. In a few instances, the buyer has been so well conditioned by the salespeople they have met, that they directly ask for the pitch, so that they can evaluate the offer. This is bad. Pitching when you don’t know what they want is flying blind and very ineffective, but sometimes you have to just suck it up and get on with it.
In these cases, we have to use our experience and try and anticipate what similar companies like this one have needed. It may be that we have some all-weather solutions which will basically suit everyone and these would be good places to start. We shouldn’t show them too many solutions because we want to get them to tell us what they need. Actually if what we are pitching isn’t on the mark, then the obvious next step is to get them to tell us what would be on the mark. We can get to the same point we want to reach, but we have to take a time wasting detour.
Another variety is more problematic and this is when the buyer doesn’t know what they need. They may already have internal solutions and the firm is geared up for those, so they haven’t explored what is also available in the market. It may be that they are the intermediatory for the group, who will be the actual users of the solution, so they are not at the coal face themselves in this case. We have to throw a wide net to try and cover off their needs.
Again, we have to draw on our experience with what generally has been a common need in this industry. I had this case recently with a tech company. They had quite elaborate internal solutions of which they were profoundly proud and at first blush, it felt like they were fully sorted and didn’t need anything from me. The people I was talking to were the HR team and again their role is removed from the coal face of the divisions doing the actual work.
We have had other tech clients and there tends to be some consistent issues with tech teams where they need training and so I decided to just hone in on a couple of these, knowing full well they have their own internal solutions. The HQ sponsored solutions are always limited though, compared to what a specialist supplier like us can provide. There is always a gap. Also, often with multi-national companies, there is the fact that the centrally driven solutions are delivered in English, which is not ideal for Japan. We can bring that local cultural and language delivery piece which they need and which is always more effective.
I always have my product Flyers on the seat next to me, out of sight of the buyer and will only show them the content I think will resonate with them. I am curating their needs, based on what I know and will only add more content when I get a sense of a requirement. This keeps the conversation very focused and I don’t overwhelm them with solutions, such that they become immobilized. I know that I can always come back and add more content as we get a better picture of need and the whole shooting match doesn’t have to be rolled out in this first meeting.
It is still unfulfilling to do it this way, compared to hearing their specific needs but sometimes we have to be flexible and play the long game. I always say to myself they may not be a buyer today, based on my current solutions, in this market, at this stage of the economic cycle, given the internal machinations of the firm, but one day they could be a buyer. If all I can leave them with is a feeling that this guy can be trusted, then I have achieved quite a lot and perhaps one day I will get the chance to serve them.