I once asked a high-performing salesperson from one of PMI’s clients to describe how and why she wins so much business. Her answer was not what I expected. “I show up differently!” she exclaimed. Intrigued by her response, I challenged her to explain. She told me that it all boiled down to how she engaged. She consistently deployed consultative selling skills and never failed to conduct in-depth, up-front discovery about the customer’s business. She clearly believed that the best practices she had established for engaging her customers made all the difference in winning and losing. I agreed—her consultative approach enabled her to differentiate herself in a field of very aggressive competitors, in a market where her firm is typically the most expensive.
That conversation triggered a larger discussion with her firm’s leadership and her sales team colleagues. Her innovative approaches were subsequently implemented as part of the organization’s deployment of tools, skills, and best practices, which directly impacted how their sales teams engaged with their customers, as well as how they could differentiate themselves before they entered into any discussions about products and services, or proposed any solutions.
This is precisely what Dave Stein and I are talking about when we refer to 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World. The deeper we look at the winning practices of top performers, the more we find that innovation in customer engagement is typically about the creation of an authentic, trust-based relationship that is actually initiated before the customer is buying…and sustained and grown after the purchase/sale is made. By planning to engage effectively before the customer is in “buy mode,” salespeople and account managers can gain significant competitive advantage by providing advice, counsel, insights, and actionable awareness to their customers. And you can bet that they will remember that you went beyond the sales process the next time they are pondering a purchase!
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