Increase sales: why sellers must change now
The role of sellers is constantly evolving, this is now a fact. Keeping up with the times and with customer needs is a key factor to not being crushed by the competition.
But what has changed in recent years? Why aren’t talkativeness, empathy, product knowledge and objection management no longer enough to be a successful seller?
Every customer is unique, and every business has its own peculiarities. The good seller must, from time to time, put in place different techniques, skills and strategies to adapt to the person in front of them. The approach of the seller must change based on the customer’s business type, industry and portfolio; however, beyond the context variety and the items diversity, it is possible to recognise some recurring traits and identify on this basis the most common sales approaches.
The market is constantly changing, and customers are increasingly informed. Moving daily between search engines, information websites, social networks and forums, they already know the characteristics of a new product when someone offer it to them. Sometimes they have already received a visit of the competitors and they have in mind the available products and their strengths.
To be effective, the seller must be a good persuader, be able to clearly highlight the strengths of their product, highlight the advantages over the competition and be prepared to handle any objection. The aim is to convince the customer that they have the best solution to their needs.
However, the abundance of information is not always an advantage for the customer. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, The New Sales Imperative, it is shown how the ease of access to information and comparisons does not always simplify the purchasing process. A high number of information and conflicting opinions confuse the potential customer, who in most cases describes the buying process as “difficult and frustrating”.
The research cited in the same article – written by some members of the CEB (Consultancy company part of the Gartner group) – shows that many Senior Executives are actually more informed, but also more uncertain and stressed: too much information, too many decision makers involved, and too many options that always generate new questions. The result is that the purchasing processes are getting longer (and often stop before the purchase).
Because of these difficulties, the good seller, who find themselves in front of a hyper-informed customer, must take off the jacket of the “persuader” to wear that of the “consultant”. They must choose different commercial approaches depending on the industry type and the customer. To get the customer’s trust, sellers must understand their real needs, perceive the “unsaid” and interpret expressed and latent wishes. Establishing a relationship on empathy and understanding will give the customer the feeling of being in front of a consultant instead of a seller.
The Proactive Seller
The study further explains how, after analysing dozens of sales techniques, a proactive vendor approach to guide customers through the decision-making process increases ease of purchase by 86% and decreases the probability of rethinking and dissatisfaction.
So, a new figure of successful seller is outlined: the proactive seller.
Regardless of the type of customer, a good seller must win their trust by modulating various approaches and sales techniques, prove to be attentive and credible by responding promptly to questions and objections, propose customised solutions and use technology support to their own advantage.
The 4 best practices of the proactive seller
The seller must necessarily adapt to changing times, to increasingly informed and demanding customers. The successful seller must have a proactive role and make the purchasing process easier for the customer: being “customer-centric” does not mean showing the customer all the information available, but proactively proposing an offer tailored to the customer’s actual needs (to study and learn before you meet them!). In other words, it means acting as a real Advisor. Technical progress and digital transformation come to the aid of the seller, providing them with the support tools to simplify the sales process.
Although there is no specific sales technique that the proactive seller uses, but more different approaches depending on the type of customer and the industry, 4 key recurring elements can be defined in all negotiations.
- Mapping of the customer-journey
Each seller prepares his own meetings trying to gather as much information as possible about the expectations and needs of potential customers. But what often happens is that you focus too much on the sales process rather than on the purchase process. To get a clear picture, you need to look at it from the right perspective and map the path that the customer followed from the moment they realised they had a need to the moment of their contact with the seller. The purchasing process is generally divided into three macro-phases: in the first phase, the customer identifies the problem and assigns it a priority level; then evaluates different solutions (exploring for example make or buy options, implications, timing, etc.); finally, they consider the various suppliers and evaluate the offers.
There are many obstacles that the customer may have to overcome before coming to meet a supplier: a typical example is linked to the initial and intermediate phases of the purchasing process, when figures with different roles can have conflicting opinions on how to approach and solve a problem. It is essential for the seller to imagine in detail the world in which the customer moves, in order to anticipate all the possible concerns of the subjects involved in the purchase process and be ready to anticipate and manage any objections.
- Identification of possible obstacles
Understanding how the need has been identified, what priority has been given to it, which subjects within the company have been involved and what other solutions they have already explored, will give the seller the competitive advantage and preparation to imagine all the possible obstacles that may have created difficulties for the customer. In this way the seller will be aware of the objections that might emerge in the discussion and will know which levers to use to gain trust and credibility.
- Monitoring progress
If the negotiation does not end in one meeting, it is essential for the seller to keep the customer’s interest alive. A proactive approach involves putting in place follow-up actions such as emails, calls, or planning a meeting in order to help the client simplify and carry out the purchasing process.
With the help of technology and software tracking solutions, the seller can monitor the negotiations and the actions of the potential customer, understand if the decision is more or less mature, foresee any problems and intervene before the prospect stops or, worse still, they turn to another supplier.
- Use of new technologies
With the use of tools designed specifically to support the seller with objective and credible information, the natural reaction of the customer passes from “… I understand where you want to get …” to “wow, you have made my life much easier!“.
Digital marketing content, product configurators and digital monitoring tools show objective and reliable data. Thanks to these, the seller can provide recommendations based on the actual needs of the customer, highlight how the strengths of the offer are relevant to their needs and guide them towards a shared solution.
The considerations that the seller will do with the support of technological tools can reduce indecision and induce the customer to buy.
Technology allows you to dedicate yourself to sales
The technological tools for the sales team help the seller, simplify their work, automate some of the processes that typically take away valuable time to the sales activity (reports, visits and other back office activities) and support them in the presentation of the commercial offer when facing the customer.
The Apparound solution
Apparound, with over 10 years of experience in the market of mobile solutions for sales, helps companies in digitising their processes and provides all the technological tools for managing the sales network operating directly on the field. Apparound is an innovative application designed around the needs of the seller, who aims to help them during the meeting and negotiation with the customer. It is a sales tool that allows the seller to be more effective during negotiations, simplifying their work and making interaction with the customer more engaging.
Within the application, which can be used both on tablets and on smartphones (as well as on a normal PC), the seller will have all the tools that can be useful during the meeting with the customer.
With Apparound, you can:
- show marketing content such as brochures, videos, price lists, etc. always up-to-date, to have a sales disk aligned with the corporate strategy
- create a real-time quote with a CPQ software (Configure Price Quote) including bundles, discounts and promotions. By actively involving the client in the negotiation, it is possible to find together with them the solution that best suits their needs
- generate the contract and close the deal at the first meeting thanks to the electronic signature
- monitor the sales processes with dynamic reporting tools and save the seller time for customer visits
The Apparound solution makes it possible to beat the competition and increase sales effectiveness, bringing benefits to the company in several ways: the seller has the resources and information necessary to answer any question or objection exhaustively and offer the customer a consultation tailored; orders are generated directly from the app and sent to the management, free of errors and in real time.