The economy affects the sales process at very fundamental levels. As budgets shrink, customers look more closely at the value proposition that salespeople bring to the negotiating table. Because of this, innovation becomes a big ingredient for a successful outcome: the customer seeks new ways to fulfill their organizational needs, while the salesperson finds new ways to connect the strengths of their services and products to the needs of the customer.
Further, the shifting economy creates a climate for intensified competition.
Although we think of competition as something that we must fight against and overcome, there are real reasons that competition is, in fact, good for organizations in several ways:
- It catalyzes innovation
- Productivity tends to increase
- Customers are given greater choice
- Sales people have more opportunities to deliver value to customers
- Sales people are fully motivated
Ultimately, to win customer business, sales professionals must do two things: Assess the situation fully, and Apply tactics that are known to work. In each sales encounter, the salesperson must assess the sales situation and promote the advantages that define their company’s products and services. This is where it’s important for the salesperson to make a direct connection among the three components of selling: the customer, the competitor and the seller. What is it that this particular customer needs? What do other companies offer? How can our company beat the other companies?
The answer to this last question may be a matter of price, but it’s also about relationship, features, benefits, and the overall organization.
We also know that salespeople can take specific steps toward a successful sales process by:
- Building a strong opening and closing statement for the sales conversation
- Being prepared to address all the customer’s concerns
- Avoiding the temptation to make disparaging comments about competitors
- Not being afraid to ask the customer about which competitors they’re considering
So during this perfect storm for competition, sales managers can encourage their teams to Assess and Apply through a combination of approaches: making sure sales representatives completely understand customer buying issues and knowing the competitors well. It’s also key to ensure that salespeople are tuned in to every defining moment in the sales process by listening and responding at key opportunities.
For more information on this topic, listen to a replay of a recent webinar we hosted in partnership with Sales Management Association.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida