We as B2B Sales professionals are told/ taught to understand our customers’ needs, get clarity on what they want to achieve, what is their success vision etc?
At least I was not told (and lately I have asked many sales leaders) how to approach a client meeting if the client herself is not aware about the exact need but is ready to make a change?
Most of the sales professionals believe that their customer would be clear about the need. Is that always true?
Perhaps such instances (of client unsure about her need) are relatively less.
I thought so initially. However lately I am realising that this % is much higher than I initially thought.
We were also taught that B2B Sales guys should be good listeners, should be good in asking insightful questions. I am in sync with these learnings.
However, are these teachings applicable in case of “customer unaware about her need”?
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So, questions I suggest you ask yourself when you prepare for your customer meeting. You may like to capture the following in your “Sales Call Planner”.
- Does this prospect have pain? – Yes/ No/ Unsure
- If yes, does she have clarity about her need? – Yes/ No /Unsure
If the answer is “yes” to the 2nd question, most “Sales Call Planners” have “Need understanding” questions to uncover the customer’s need, the trigger for her requirement, success vision etc.
The problem happens when the customer is unsure or unaware of her need and the sales rep keeps asking her to share her needs/expectations/success vision etc…. This is where Garbage in – Garbage out happens.
The customer is anyway under pressure due to pain in her world and the sales rep is not helping the prospect by interrogating her with more questions.
Lately, in my observation of successful sales professionals, I realized that – this is one more area that differentiates Best from the Rest.
Best Sales Professionals have a good understanding of
- The customer’s industry (almost always)
- Customer’s company (mostly)
- Customer’s profile KPIs ( almost always based on his experience of working with other customers having similar profiles in the same industry)
Based on this knowledge, Best Sales professional helps the customer not only uncover the cause that’s creating the symptom (pain) in the customer’s world but also recommends a solution to overcome these problems.
Average hardworking sales reps enter sales cycle late and are normally responding to customer’s needs or request for a quote, whereas great sales reps enter early in the buying process, add value in each conversation, establish their credibility and help customers look at their problem in a different way and help the prospect by recommending a solution.
Their customers listen to them and let them speak more in the meetings.
I realized that a “sales call planner” should help the Sales rep prepare for both scenarios and should have the following follow-up questions also –
– Does this client have clarity of her need? Yes/ No/ Unsure
If no, are you ready to define the problem for the customer?
– Are you ready to recommend a solution for the customer? And would that help establish your credibility – Yes / No?
During our Sales Consulting and sales training engagements, we realized that we also need to keep evolving as an organization.
At times, a few customer conversations create a light bulb moment for us.
During one such moment, I realized that there is something “not correct’ in our pursuit to (always) try to understand customers’ needs well.
Not all customers fall into that bucket and we as sales professionals need to be ready for both scenarios.
Be ready to recommend solutions at times, customizing your messaging to the customer’s world.