By Chris Cowan
Chris is AchieveGlobal’s Executive Vice President and head of U.S. Sales. Chris has 20+ years of domain expertise in complex sales, strategic partnerships and business development. His experience spans from the Fortune 50 to small start-ups across multiple industry verticals.
If you have been in sales for a while, it would have been hard to miss all the hype around the latest and greatest sales approaches and different selling techniques that work….or don’t !
Some of these “proven techniques” and “surefire ways” to close a deal are legitimate, however many are simply tricks and tactics used by the unprofessional salesperson to cover for deficiencies earlier in the sales process. The reality is that the only tried-and-true approach is if the sales professional completely understands the customer needs, and works with them throughout their buying process.
Think about the best sale you’ve ever made. Recall how the conversation went that led to an effortless close. It might have looked like this:
You were working with the customer and you were drawn to the situation and genuinely interested in finding out what they were trying to accomplish. You asked good questions, you probed, clarified, and qualified, and then it just clicked! You thoroughly understood the wins they were looking for, the results they wanted to see, and the goals they expected to achieve. Once you had this very clear and in-depth understanding, you then realized exactly how you could help. You were able to identify specific issues, specific solutions, and specific outcomes for their business. Having established both a clear understanding and then a completely aligned solution, the sale unfolded easily from there. It wasn’t a discussion around price or level of discount, but about how and when you began your work together.
The scenario I just described may seem too good to be true, but it is the reality for the best practitioners of need-satisfaction selling. When you meet with a prospect or client, the goal is not to close. The goal should be to uncover true needs with clarity and precision.
I cannot tell you how many salespeople overlook these fundamentals. They may hear parts of what the customer is trying to tell them but they’re hyper-focused on how to position their offering that they totally miss the mark. Our recently published point-of-view paper illustrates this point very well: “Top performers effectively guide live customer interactions by facilitating dialogue whose central purpose is to uncover and satisfy a customer’s relevant business needs.”
The key challenge then is not how you can position your product or service, but how you can establish a level of trust and dialogue with customer where they feel comfortable sharing valuable information that will illuminate their business challenges and needs. To be successful at selling focus on developing the skills that will allow you to lead rich conversations with your customers and fully engage them. These critical skills, collectively known as need-satisfaction selling skills, can be learned and mastered through training, practice and practical application.