Selling The Customer Who Knows Too Much


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Are your salespeople ready to sell to would-be buyers who already know exactly what they want?

One of the biggest sales shifts in recent years has been the rise of buyers who may know more about what you’re selling than you do. They may even tell you how they’re prepared to buy your products and services.

So how should businesses respond to the rise of the extremely well-informed customer?

Cue “point of view” selling, which is based on this simple principle: you can no longer act like you know more than your customers. Indeed, according to Matt Johnson, Cloud Sherpas’ VP of Advisory Services, salespeople practicing point-of-view selling must instead know:

Sales: Think POV, Disruptive, Challenging

Point-of-view selling, which is a term coined by Gartner, refers to focusing the sales process on a customer’s particular need — which a product will satisfy — or managing the selling and buying process itself. Popular versions of this approach include the Challenger model and disruptive selling.

Regardless of how you reference this concept, businesses that do it correctly will realize benefits such as increased speed to revenue and increased customer satisfaction, as your processes will be better aligned with your customers’ desires.

Walk Customers Through Transparent Sales Stages

But making sales a more prescriptive process will require some big-picture changes. For starters, salespeople who want to close deals must first devote themselves to educating customers and applying knowledge to gain the upper hand against competitors. They must also manage the expectations of customers, who may become frustrated by salespeople asking them what they want at every step along the way.

But one benefit of this approach is that it’s highly transparent: salespeople walk customers through each stage of the sales cycle and, along the way, show customers where they are, preview where they need to go and explain why they need to go there. Then, salespeople help customers get there at just the right time.

Case Study: Medical Device Manufacturer

Cloud Sherpas recently helped one of our medical device manufacturing customers redesign its sales stages based on a purchasing model. Notably, after reviewing how businesses purchased the company’s high-end medical products, our conclusion was that the company didn’t need to sell its products so much as educate customers about the best way to buy its equipment.

Accordingly, the revamped point-of-view sales stages included steps for testing a customer’s premises and bringing in plumbers or electricians to re-equip laboratories as required. Salespeople were also tasked (and related incentives were introduced) to enter essential information — such as the customer’s budget cycle — into the CRM system so that key project phases could be delivered before required deadlines.

Finally, the manufacturer ensured that it helped move the customers through the sales stages at just the right speed by keeping the customers informed of different tasks at each stage and previewing what needed to be done next in order to reach the ultimate goal. The manufacturer also tracked key project milestones — such as getting key stakeholders to sit down together and sign off on a proposed deal — and began scheduling those weeks in advance to ensure they happened on time.

On balance, this sales model is more prescriptive and disruptive, but, interestingly — and somewhat counter-intuitively — it’s also quite transparent. You’re literally telling a customer in advance what will happen (and explaining why it will happen) when they get to step three. There’s no confusion.

Employ CRM To Deliver Point-Of-View Selling

To practice point-of-view selling properly, however, businesses must embrace certain CRM changes. Often, this includes changes to both the technology and the sales management methodology they employ. In particular, the sales stages businesses use to manage opportunities must become more defined and prescriptive and they must be supported by the CRM system. That way, salespeople will know exactly what to do, when to do it and why it’s necessary.

To make these changes happen, Cloud Sherpas often works with customers to run a small workshop that walks business leaders and sales teams through related point-of-view selling requirements, including:

  • Content: Businesses must create a large amount of content relating to their products and services, then help customers assimilate that content before trying to close a deal.

  • Timing: In a point-of-view sales model, jumping to the proposal stage too quickly can sink a deal. Instead, using a more deliberate and prescriptive approach will ensure that when customers get to the proposal stage they’re ready — and able — to sign the deal.

As these requirements suggest, point-of-view selling typically demands greater discipline than more traditional sales approaches. With point-of-view selling, salespeople must spend more time managing the data related to each step and entering that information into the CRM system. But, by doing so, they can track their progress and generate more accurate reports. Above all, point-of-view selling ensures sales teams that they’re moving would-be buyers through the sales stages at just the right speed to close the deal.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Dierk Schaefer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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