The Sales Professional’s Guide to Engaging with Customers

Selling has changed. Today’s complex B2B selling environment presents salespeople with many challenges: Buyers have more sources of information, there are more people involved, and there is a more structured process—all of which make buying a complex, often chaotic, even political endeavor. Customers used to value salespeople for their availability, as well as for their ability to provide product specs and pricing, but customers now are looking for something they can’t get online, from automated systems, or from uninformed salespeople.
A sales professional’s ability to provide perspective—the polar opposite of a scripted, canned pitch—is a differentiator. Salespeople with perspective make sure the person they are working with has thought through all of the dependencies that will give the initiative a greater chance of success. When you sell with perspective, you are bringing your expertise in the field to bear on every opportunity.

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Three keys to unlocking your ability to provide perspective:

  • Understand the customer/stakeholder: This means understanding the client’s concept of what they want to fix, accomplish or avoid. Sales professionals need to target messages to the customer’s concept and stage in the buying cycle. Savvy customers have probably already visited your website and armed themselves with the basics of your value proposition. Consequently, the static marketing/sales messages fall flat when the salesperson does no more than rehash what the buyer already knows.
  • Deliver a clear, meaningful analysis of situation: The salesperson must be able to articulate what success looks like based on the customer’s unique situation. Providing perspective requires mastery of your products and capabilities but, more importantly, the ability to apply them in context of the customer’s world. Buyers will be receptive to listening to your point of view when you proceed from a fact-based standpoint. Providing them with data not only proves the case you are proposing but allows them to predict their results going forward.
  • Provide valuable advice and new ways of thinking that lead to solutions: Simply put, the sales professional must make whatever the client wants to happen—to fix, accomplish, or avoid—well, happen. Customers want to deal with a salesperson who focuses beyond the sale and all the way to the results the customer is out to achieve. Be prepared to provide specific research that backs up your position and shows the customer the direction that others have already taken and used to achieve predictable success. It’s not just research that is needed; sales professionals need to bring the lessons learned and experiences from other clients so that they can help new customers avoid unintended consequences

Make no mistake: While perspective selling sounds basic to all of us, it is a big differentiator in the marketplace. The discerning sales professional would do well to put it into practice.