Are You Sold?
By Wayne Ens
I recently facilitated a workshop where the host broadcaster felt their sales people's competitive edge was to take a consultative approach to selling rather than a traditional sales approach.
A great concept, but with one major flaw. Assuming your competitors are using old-school sales tactics and not the consultative approach can be a huge mistake.
The reality is, to varying degrees, most of your competitors also claim to be "consultants." They've probably been trained to do a Customer Needs Analysis (CNA), to ask questions, and to sell solutions.
And there is no doubt that consultative selling is the right way to build stronger customer relationships and increase sales for you, and your clients.
But many alleged consultative sellers see consulting as simply a tactic to get a sale. The sale is their goal. Most pay simple lip service to the process and simply ask questions until they see an opening for that sale.
So what do you do to differentiate yourself when everyone is claiming to be a consultative seller?
Here are a few tips:
1. Don't ask the same dumb questions your competitors, or predecessors, asked. I once had a business owner say to me, "If I have one more media rep ask me who my target demographic is, I'm going to scream. I want to work with professional marketing consultants who already know the demographics for my products."
2. Become a category expert. Choose categories to target that a.) fit your station's demographics, and b.) you have a knowledge of, a natural affinity for, or a passion for.
3. Answer a minimum of 90 percent of your CNA before you meet with your prospect. The answers can be found online through your chosen category's trade associations, trade publications, or through personal contacts with the prospect's suppliers, staff, and competitors.
4. Use the pre-call knowledge you acquire to pre-plan more intelligent, relevant, and thought-provoking questions than your cookie-cutter competitors.
5. Don't be a "yes-man"! Traditional salespeople smile and nod with every answer to their questions. True consultants, based upon their knowledge, challenge every answer to every question. Salespeople smile and tell prospects what they want to hear. Consultants tell prospects what they need to hear.
6. Don't take chances with your client's money. True consultants conduct the research and forensics to ensure the likelihood of success of every recommendation they present.
7. Have conviction in your proposed solutions. Sales people present various alternatives, often called "the alternative close" because they don't care what the client buys as long as they buy. Consultants have the knowledge-based conviction to walk away from an order if they know the campaign will not work for the client.
8. Conduct a post-campaign analysis to learn how the campaign was measured and how to make each campaign better than the last.
9. Keep learning about your chosen categories. Your client has to know a little bit about everything: accounting, signing leases, selling, negotiating, hiring staff, ordering fall merchandise, and oh, maybe some "marketing." When you devote your full focus to learning about marketing for their category, you become a valuable resource.
10. Place a value on your consulting and creative services. You might not actually charge it, but in your presentation identify your credentials, and place a monetary value on the time, knowledge, and effort you expend on your client's behalf to ensure more productive campaigns. When you show a total value for your schedule and your expertise, but only charge for the schedule portion, you'll seldom encounter rate issues.
11. Spend at least as much time learning about marketing, and recent marketing trends, as you do learning about how to sell. When asked what they would do differently, two of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, both had the same answer…read more sooner.
12. Most importantly, do not try to create a campaign to sell your clients products or services until you too have been sufficiently sold. Keep probing, digging, researching, and asking questions until the client has convinced you that they are the best place to do business.
Once you're sold, you'll find it much easier to passionately create a campaign to convince your audience to buy from your client.
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