Category Archives: Consultative Selling
The complexity surrounding SaaS sales and software buying decisions is increasing. The reason: traditional software models based on one-time, upfront licensing fees have evolved to SaaS cloud solutions. Now, pricing is pay-as-you-go. Therefore, buyers expect value that extends beyond the closing of the sale. This change in the software market means that professionals selling the cloud need to redesign their approach to buyers. However, the buyers are also changing.
Simply put: IT buyers are only a segment of the group. With more business functions depending on SaaS capabilities, multiple stakeholders are entering the buying process. Cloud computing service providers need to engage various needs while articulating how the solution brings value to the business.
While these challenges are significant, so are the rewards. According to Gartner, “As of 2016, approximately 17 percent of the total market revenue for infrastructure, middleware, applications, and business process services had shifted to the cloud.” Moreover, “through 2021, this will increase to approximately 28 percent.” The future isn’t up in the air — it’s in the clouds.
Here, we look at five best practices for selling the cloud.
Selling SaaS Solutions to New Buyers
Today, IT stakeholders have moved to an influencer role, while business-unit stakeholders and C-level executives occupy the primary buying position. As a result, the sales cycle is increasing amid divergent objectives within the same organization. Each » Continue Reading.
Economic theories rely on the assumption that humans act as rational beings. Richard Thaler, professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, is changing this belief. “In order to do good economics, you have to keep in mind that people are human,” he remarks. The idea, elegant in its simplicity, earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics this year.
Traditionally, economists have argued that a person’s purchasing decisions are, overall, driven by logic. However, Thaler shows that this idea only explains ordinary, frequent purchases, like groceries. However, bigger, less-common decisions present us with new complexity revealing flaws in our decision making. The energy needed to tackle these decisions may explain why “people have a bias toward the status quo.”
However, overcoming this inertia requires leveraging enough influence to create what Thaler calls a “nudge.” Doing so is less complicated than one might think because, as Thaler explains, there are consistencies in the ways in which people exercise irrationality. For example, all people facing a decision are highly influenced by the way in which choices are presented. This phenomenon — called “framing” — is so common that Thaler uses the phrase “choice architect” to describe those who regularly influence others with framing. “If you are a doctor and must describe the alternative treatments available to a patient, you are a choice architect,” offers Thaler.
These findings matter in » Continue Reading.
We need to make assumptions in life; we would never move forward without them. However, we need to periodically check, or even change, them because unquestioned assumptions can appear as facts. Proof of this is found in the unlikeliest of places: the tomato, a plant once so feared people called it the “poison apple.”
Those living in the 1700s frequently became sick after eating tomatoes. Many died. People believed that it was so dangerous that it was classified in a family of plant species carrying the name “deadly nightshade.”
Yet, the tomato they feared was identical to the one we enjoy today. So, why were people terrified of tomatoes? The answer lies in their assumptions.
Many Europeans at the time ate from plates made of pewter, an alloy high in lead. The acidity in tomatoes is strong enough to leach this lead from the surface. For 200 years, they assumed the tomato was to blame.
Even the most faulty assumptions can persist for centuries.
The story of the tomato serves as a reminder of how assumptions can mislead and cause bad decision making — two big threats for people in sales. Pursuing an opportunity or growing an account has a lot to do with making frequent strategic and tactical decisions. If those pursuit decisions are based on faulty information — due to assumptions versus facts — the path chosen can lead to » Continue Reading.
Consultative selling is a method for narrowing the remove between the seller and buyer. By closing this gap, the relationship transcends a “give and take” dynamic to become more of a shared effort to resolve a complex business problem. Reaching this point means embracing these guiding principles.
Exude Conviction, Confidence & Curiosity
Developing skills and behaviors that demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and attentiveness to the details coming from the customer. Bring a strong point of view balanced with a genuine interest in them and what they are trying to achieve.
Connect to the Emotional Side of Buying
In one word, sellers must empathize. Doing so means not simply acknowledging the customer’s challenges but seeking to feel what they feel and understand what they think. Friend/Foe Bias is another form of cognitive bias that tells us we are naturally wired to assess each other’s intentions and to quickly decide if someone is a friend or foe (threat). Seller behaviors must not be manipulative or appear self-serving to avoid triggering a threat response and eroding trust.
Get the customer talking. You cannot move the sale forward without both sides contributing to the conversation. Some buyers are reluctant to offer information which is why effective sellers first give so they can eventually get. Customers will resist opening up if they: are bored, feel interrogated, are asked uneducated questions, » Continue Reading.
It’s time to put the customer back into the conversation. The greatest resource a seller has in winning new business is an honest dialogue. Engage the process as a team. Call upon these core tenets of consultative selling in every buyer interaction.
Sellers need to come prepared. Effective selling begins before the conversation starts. Seek out resources to learn more about the key drivers behind the customer’s business as well as the decision makers and their process. Interactions with the customer are valuable, so be sure to tackle the easy questions on your own before meeting the customer.
Foster openness through dialogue that allows the buyer to feel less guarded about their insights on what they need in a solution. This exchange primes the seller to effectively position value later. All things being equal, the ability of a seller to tightly demonstrate relevance to a specific customer issue or opportunity (rather than simply an industry-wide one) will always be more compelling.
Successful sellers rely on periodic feedback from the customer. This “checking in” ensures that the customer is involved in the conversation. Feedback will reveal if the seller has offered any ideas that are incongruous to the customer’s perspective. Knowing these objections is critical before making recommendations that involve the product at hand.
By creating a dialogue, asking questions, and eliciting feedback, sellers will be well prepared to ask for the » Continue Reading.
Competing in the world of selling today means understanding the changing world of your buyers and adjusting your sales approach accordingly. The biggest change for sellers is that the game has gotten harder, and sellers need to execute at a higher level than ever before to compete. Committing to this level of change is the difference between college sports and pro. The players are bigger. The game is faster. The conditions are more challenging.
Recent Changes in the Buying Process Unprecedented access to information: Today’s buyers are more informed and more prepared. They perform extensive research and many are deciding on solutions before engaging a salesperson or having a conversation. As a result, buyers show up with an arsenal of knowledge as well as preconceived idea of what they believe they need. They are also able to complete more phases of the buying cycle on their own. Research from Forrester forecasts that “1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by the year 2020.” This isn’t the end of the sales profession but rather a wake-up call to all sellers that the customer is looking for more. Availability of options: Related to the overabundance of information, buyers today are bombarded with opinions and options. There can be a multitude of ways to solve a particular issue and navigating the best path can be a challenge. Further complicating the challenge is » Continue Reading.
There is no second act in selling. Buyers have too many options and not enough time. When your salespeople show up, they must be exceptional – cutting through the noise and distilling what matters most.
Join Richardson for a complimentary webinar, Adjusting Your Consultative Selling Approach to Engage The Modern Buyer, on August 8 at 3:00 PM EST. In this webinar, attendees will learn how to create a fresh approach to their Consultative Selling Training Programs that empowers their sales organizations:
To understand not only buyer psychology, but the neuroscience and behavioral science behind how people form impressions, make judgments, and arrive at decisions How to foster trust and encourage openness from their buyers How to float ideas in a way that deepens the conversation rather than limiting it
Many large, complex sales require sales professionals to approach pitching as a team. Often, there is strength in numbers, but preparation and logistics become even more critical in order to show a unified front to the customer.
Preparation for Pitching as a Team
An important consideration is choosing who will handle the opening. The person opening has to be skilled in making an impact, commanding attention, and establishing an immediate hook. Typically, he/she will give opening remarks, a rundown of the agenda, introduce team members, and handle transitions.
It is vital to prepare specific roles and content for each member of the team. Every person should know what they’re going to say, and they should convey the value they bring to the table. Even though everyone has their own expertise, all must be aligned behind the same clear message during the sales pitch.
To anticipate and prepare for possible questions and objections, it helps for the team to brainstorm beforehand. What might be an issue? How will the team handle it? Who, specifically, will address questions in which areas? Each presenter should know which part of the overall story he/she is responsible for, along with how his/her content dovetails with what the other presenters are saying.
Whether or not each person stands up to make his/her presentation depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, it’s natural to stand, even if everyone else is seated. Standing commands » Continue Reading.