When thinking about 2017, I try to reflect on 2016 to see where I might have missed a step and what areas are ripe for improvement.
Here’s one of my thoughts. It’s always a challenge to employ effective communications. Anyone who has taken an interest and listened in to this past year’s election cycle would probably agree that effective communication is the key to winning people over. I didn’t say great communication. I intentionally used the term effective, because in the end that’s all that matters.
How Are Your Messages Reaching Your Targeted Audiences?
When Americans feel angry, for whatever reason, a message that resonates and speaks to that anger will get more attention than political concepts. I am not trying to make a political point here, but what I learned last year watching, Brexit and the American election is that no matter how competent or incompetent you are and how reasonable or unreasonable your arguments might be, they will not resonate if you are out of touch with your audience.
And in this spirit, I wanted to pivot to the sales world, and, right, you guessed it, talk about truly understanding and adjusting to your prospects and their needs. I have experienced so many sales people not really listening to and understanding their audiences and not communicating effectively. And therefore, they are far too often ineffective in the way they communicate with their prospects. It’s not what we say, it’s whether we can gain a prospect’s attention and they hear us, that matters.
When it comes to sales, it’s of ultimate importance to fully understand our prospect, so we can effectively communicate with her/him. Not everybody communicates in the same way. While some people want to get to the point quickly, others will be solely price driven, other people will want to purchase a product or service which greatly improves what they now have or use and price will not be that much of an issue. And still others are driven by proven reliability and are cost conservative.
Understanding those differences is crucial to success in sales.
Step 1: Listen to Your Customers
One of the differentiators we need to be aware of is to understand why people make decisions the way they do. We know that human behavior revolves around the need to gain pleasure or avoid pain. Some people are oriented to one more than another. And, unlike other psychologies this will vary based on the decision that they are making. We need to listen to what our customers tell us about past purchase decisions and what triggered their decision to go with one product or service over another.
So, What Motivates Your Prospects?
How often have you heard others say, “Oh, that buyer is super loyal to their vendor – they’ll never use anyone else”? Probably more often than what researchers have established. Only about 6% of all buyers are truly brand loyal and most likely won’t ever switch suppliers.
And then, there are those who are ALWAYS on the move, always the first adaptors. Another surprise, – only about 7% of the buying population fall into this category.
So, – What percentage of buyers are willing (to varying degrees) to make a change? About 86/87% – that’s a lot of buyers willing to listen IF (and that could be a very big IF) what you are saying is relevant and resonates with them.
Listen and ask questions to deep-dig about their needs, their challenges, how they envision improving their business. Some will say what they want in a forward-thinking manner. Others might share with you what they don’t want or what didn’t work in the past.
Don’t forget to listen to the questions they are asking, and how they are asking. Clues are everywhere to help you position your solutions to meet their needs and their way of thinking.
Why Do People Make Decisions the Way They Do?
A large group of buyers (about 42%) are comfortable with their current providers but are open to a possible change if it truly means efficiencies, or your product/service helps them save time or money, or provides peace of mind/security.
Then there is another large group (about 45%) who are very open to change and like to try out new services and product. Make note of their preference and be sure to present changes in your services or products to them first. You can avoid losing them to another provider.
So, How Do You Change Your Strategy?
Simply put, analyze their approach and then position your solution to match the strategy the customer uses (usually subconsciously) to make buying decisions. In sales, we should employ some psychology to be even more successful. For example, if a buyer tells you what they don’t want or what didn’t work, offer them a solution that removes that risk of failure. Stress reliability and offer examples or testimonials.
In our Consultative Sales Certification Program (CSC), we help sales and service professionals understand buyers’ behavior, their communication preferences and how to gain the commitments and buy-ins which will lead to success by understanding, among many other elements, the psychology behind purchasing decisions.
In essence, coming full circle – one message might be effective for one person and could totally miss the mark for another one.
Sales is a complex process because we humans are complex beings. And as I have shared with you many time, in the end, People buy from People!