When I walk into a store there is one of two things that are likely to happen:
1. I am a buyer who is ready to buy. I am on a mission to buy something specific that I know exists at that store and I know I want it. I am ready to buy it because I have done research before coming to the store, I am ready to purchase.
2. I don't know that I need something and I think I am not on the market to buy something. I have no clue what I am looking for but I am hoping something catches my eye. I am wandering into a store just because I like fashion and looking at clothes. I want to see what is out there. If I see something I like I might buy it or I might need a bit more time and education to get me to buy.
Both of these scenarios happen in a B2B sales process. These 2 types of buyers need to be approached by a sales rep in two different ways.
Let's take the first type of buyer and put it into context of a sales person who is selling software to someone who already knows they need software to fix their problem. They are in the market for a solution and they want to buy something that will help solve their problems.
- The person who is your lead knows what they want.
- They are aware of a problem internally that needs to be fixed.
- They have done research ahead of time and have educated themselves before they want to talk to the sales rep.
- They know what their problems are and they are fairly confident that they know what will help fix their problem. Your software is one of the options on her list.
- This type of buyer has preconceptions from what they have learned or heard from people who use your software as to what you do. You should be ready for this.
Your job as the sales rep should be to:
- Understand why the potential buyer thinks they need what they need. LISTEN.
- Figure out what their problems within the current context of what they are currently doing and why.
- Let the prospect explain to you what they want out of the sales process with you and what it will take to get them to buy something. Learn what you need to know about how they go through a buying process.
- Ask them what they know about your software already and what they think that you do.
- Regardless of what your solution does, ask them if there was an ideal solution out there what would it be and what would it do for you.
Now you know enough about their needs and wants. The sales rep needs to process this information and take next steps:
- Take the information that was given to your in the discovery process to formulate your own opinions as to whether or not you think you can help them.
- Taking everything that they have told you about their needs, wants, challenges, plans, time line, goals, etc you need to put your thinking cap on to extract reasons why you can or cannot help them. Then put together a plan for the company as to why your solution can solve their problems and help them to reach their goals.
- Recognize their assumptions of what they think you do and address those up front. You should get assumptions of what you do that are not true before you go into the process. Tell them the truth as to what you really do and what maybe the market thinks you do. Always be truthful and up front from the beginning as to what your product can and cannot do.
- Remember to give your own opinions in the process. This type of buyer probably wants to be educated. They are someone who is smart enough to do their own research so they will most likely want to learn from you. Offer your own advice and your own opinions on why you you are offering them certain things. They will appreciate your expertise and your knowledge from past experiences. Be helpful.
Once everything is out there. Both sides have gone through a discovery process. You as the sales person know about the potential buyer's problems, the buyer knows how you might be able to help. Now you both should agree on what you have spoken about and to what steps you will or won't take from here. Both parties need to agree that they are in the same spot. You are both ready to move forward and look into this solution or service more, OR you are both not ready. You have the right as a sales person and as a buyer to say no. Maybe you aren't ready to keep going on either side for one reason or the other. That is okay.
Take the information from the exploratory process and put it into a format that the buyer can disseminate. This should be in a format of a plan and how your solution will help solve their pain points. If you sell software an easy way to do this is through a customized demo of the software that focuses on the plan you have built together.
A sales process is a fluid thing. Your sales organization has probably put together a sales process for your sales reps. As a sales rep you should realize that this process is a guide. It does not have to go step by step every single time. Think for yourself. Think like a human being and think about why you are doing something in the process or not doing something in the sales process. Figure out your own plan of attack that will help your prospect. I urge you to think outside of your scripts and to figure out the best path of helping your prospect by using your brain and by using gut feelings. Usually you will be right.