In our Buyer Aligned Foundations program, a comprehensive and multi-faceted sales learning program for B2B sales, we cover the 10 Principles of Buyer Aligned Selling that underpin every skill one needs to master to be successful in complex selling. Today I thought it might be helpful to give a bit of a peek into three of those ideas that can make a meaningful difference in your mindset and sales approach tomorrow.
Selling is a Noble Service
Experience has shown that one of the most common reasons for lack of success in sales is hesitation.
It’s common with most sales professionals, but is especially evident with those who are somewhat new or inexperienced. Can you relate? Perhaps there was a time when you may have felt you were interrupting your buyer, or too pushy and insistent. This might have made you feel uncomfortable and the result was that you pulled back ever so slightly . Or maybe wanted to wait for the buyer to make the next move because you were afraid that you were crossing a line and didn’t want to be “one of those” sales people.
This is natural. But it’s unnecessary and unwise.
Much of this hesitation is born of our own bad experiences with unscrupulous salespeople. Those that push, manipulate and deceive have unfortunately tainted our profession, and even our own individual views of what sales is, or can be. But there’s a better way and it starts with this foundational mindset.
If a buyer has a business pain and your company can potentially solve it, the sales professional is the crucial glue that brings these two situations together for the betterment of everyone involved. Without sales professionals, buyers may never know of the solutions your company has available to them, or at a minimum, may be unable to fully assess those solutions virtue of marketing content alone.
The sales professional is essential.
This part may be rather obvious, but what’s buried in this idea is the notion of SERVICE. To sell is to serve. At least it is when selling is approached in the right way.
When you put integrity, empathy and mission first; and your highest goal is to solve problems and enable new goals to be reached for your buyers, you are deeply into a service mentality. Selling becomes less about manipulating someone to buy your product because it will be good for you, and more about sifting and finding buyers with that unique set of needs for which your products and solutions are ideally suited. It becomes about them and their needs primarily, and your gains secondarily.
It’s a mindset that can relieve internal conflict for sales professionals, reduce hesitation and drive real trust and relationship with buyers. It shouldn’t be underestimated.
Always Be Valuable
You may have heard one of the most common sales catch phrases that goes “Always Be Closing”, or “ABC”. Some of you may have even seen Alec Baldwin’s infamous scene in Glengarry Glen Ross where he talks about “ABC”. If you haven’t seen it and want to, you can find it on YouTube. If you don’t like vulgar language, I recommend staying away. It’s pretty rough.
In Buyer Aligned Selling we believe it’s time to move past the simplistic idea of “Always Be Closing”. Instead, we subscribe to “ABV”, or “Always Be Valuable”.
For a buyer to invest significant time with a sales professional there must be a relatively high level of trust. And to actually make a monetary investment in that business partner takes even more! As we’ve already shown, a Service minded approach builds significant trust when the buyer’s needs are the first priority.
The practical way to do this is to make sure that every interaction you have with the buyer has two components: (1) a focus on them, and (2) an intention to make this particular interaction valuable to them, in and of itself.
This requires thinking through the information they need at each stage in the Consideration and Decision stages. By offering to deliver value first, the buyer is much more likely to look forward to future interactions with you, which begins to remove hesitancy and delays which are a natural part of any buying process.
In today’s time-constrained world, it’s difficult to imagine that very many people will continue to give you their time and attention with nothing in it for themselves. Our experience shows that every interaction could be valuable as a stand alone event, even if there is no sale to be consummated down the road.
This approach, when done consistently, will often result in your buyer feeling very comfortable spending more and more time with you to explore whether your solution could solve their needs and unlock value in their business.
Decision making is hard, buyers value help
The next principal is based on the idea that the deep and extensive consideration found in complex decisions is often difficult for buyers. Today’s world is very complex and there is more “noise in the system” than ever before. This noise effects focus, concentration, discernment and ability to prioritize; which are key components to complex decision making. Add in the fact that business decisions are often fairly high stakes because many constituents will be impacted and one’s personal reputation is at stake, and it’s clear that making a good business decision is not an easy responsibility for your buyers.
This is where a Buyer Aligned sales professional can offer a very valuable perspective.
Without overstepping the bounds of being helpful, a sales professional can assist the buyer in deciding what to consider, who to involve and what next steps make sense. Like a personal trainer, the sales professional has the opportunity to coach the buyer and provide guidance on how to effectively move through a complex decision process that concludes in a wise decision, especially if we keep the service mindset intact.
The fact is sales professionals like yourself have seen many more decisions made around the products and solutions you offer than your buyers have. This is valuable insight.
Helping a buyer determine how to navigate through a decision process helps them more than most sales professionals realize, and also increases one’s ability to build trust and deeper engagement.