When you’re a B2B company, particularly if you’re selling a service, everyone within your organization has a role to play in your success – from those on reception, through to the CEO.
They may not be part of the dedicated sales team and selling in the traditional sense, but everyone is responsible for ‘selling’ the company.
If someone calls you, or walks through the front door, the experience they receive will say a lot about you as a company and what it may be like to work with you. And first impressions count.
What you are selling is far more than a product, it’s a process that revolves around ideas and people. Those are your core assets and each has a value. That is what you are selling.
The consulting sales process in detail
As well as understanding how the modern sales environment works, you need to be clear on exactly what the process looks like that you’re offering, before you even think of talking to a lead.
- How the on-boarding process is structured
- What a customer can expect when working with you
You need to focus in on your assets (the team and the process), looking specifically at how they stand you apart from the competition. People management is also key here and you need to show you excel at it, managing the people component of your offering – both your own people and those associated with customers.
Top tips for encouraging sales
Have a strong customer management process
How you manage your customer relationships, and the process that will be followed when someone works with you, needs to be well thought through. Make it as easy and smooth as possible. For example, every customer should be provided with a list of all the relevant people within your organization and vice-versa.
Help your customers succeed
It’s not just about the service you’re offering, it’s about finding out how your service is going to help each client achieve their business goals. Think how your solution can help them improve their core business and reach their goals.
Work on increasing customer loyalty
The business world is a competitive place, no matter what industry you may be in. It’s, therefore, important to keep hold of clients and to grow their business, reducing churn as much as you can. Spend time figuring out how to promote loyalty and reward it.
Demonstrate your expertise
Speaking engagements are a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. Show off your skills, knowledge and how approachable you are, at other people’s events – both big and small. Also, produce great content and get it out there. Learn how to do effective presentations and how to leverage them online for post-speech use, so you’re maximizing all the potential uses of everything you’re producing.
Perhaps you could even write a book.
Use social selling to the max
Look how social media could best be used to support each stage of the sales process. There are many ways social selling can help you, from encouraging word of mouth and recommendations to building credibility. Check out this blog for more pointers.
Focus on benefits not features
The most important thing you can do is to talk about the benefits of what you’re offering. Let prospects know why they should use it, by answering the question ‘what’s it going to do for me?’. Features are something you can talk about later, it’s the benefit that will sell the product for you.
Know what the value is that you’re offering
We’re not talking about price here, we’re talking about the value that you offer for a customer and their company. How can you benefit them? What added value do you bring? Is there any way you can improve on that added value? Instead of being a product or service, work on being a solution and a trusted partner. Don’t be tempted to offer price reductions, instead look at ways you can add further value.
What can they expect from you?
Talk through customers’ expectations with them and make sure they are realistic. It’s always going to be better to under promise and over deliver. The last thing you want is a mismatch between what they think they’re getting and when, and what actually happens. Make it clear beforehand exactly what they can expect from you and what the process will be.
Turn your services into a package
How you present your services can have a big effect on how hard or easy they are to sell. The key is to move away from being thought of as a one-off. Cleverly packaging up your services is one way to achieve this. For example, you may package them in such a way that commits clients to working with you for a longer period, by offering a certain price in exchange for a minimum length of contract.
When you’re a consultant, no marketing will ever be as strong as having a happy client tell others how great you are. Ask yourself, would current customers recommend you to others? If not, then you have a problem. Think about ways you can achieve and encourage this.
The number one technique for achieving sales today is consultative selling, which is about focusing on the customer and their needs. There is no one formula for how consultative selling should be used, it is an individual process and will depend on what you are offering and who you target.
Buyers have no patience for listening to a sales rep go on and on about a product. They instead want to feel understood and listened to. You need to be doing all you can to build a relationship and get to know each potential client, so you can figure out how best to help them achieve their goals.
Spend time fine tuning your entire sales and marketing process to guide leads along a path which will help you both determine whether it’s a good relationship to pursue.
Success here is about having the right mind-set. Your focus should be on solving clients’ needs, not pushing your product. That can call for a shift in mind-set, if you’re to start honest conversations. To them, you need to be a problem solver!
Steps for taking a consultative sales approach:
1. Identify and diagnose
The first part of the process is to ask a lot of probing questions to try and pinpoint what a client’s needs are. This takes understanding of their business and the challenges they face. Only then do you take the next step, which is to come to a solution together.
Now this shouldn’t mean taking an “I’ll show you what to do” approach. It’s about finding the best solution for them. There needs to be trust and a certain level of credibility for a prospect to fully open up to you.
2. Build credibility
Why should any prospect believe what you’re saying to them? You’ve got to demonstrate and prove your expertise. Apart from competency, it’s about having ideas and a true understanding of the situation they’re in. Facts and figures can also help – whether they’re about the industry, your past results, or anything else a prospect will be able to relate to.
3. Help them achieve their goals
The key to successful consultative selling is to discover the prospect’s business goals and outline how you would fit in and help them be achieved. This is sometimes very tricky to do and requires a high level of trust, focus on building that first.
4. Have stories ready to share
For every point that may come up have a story ready to share. These may be from your own experiences, but they could also be from other sources. Using anecdotes is a great way to help a prospect see what your solution could mean for them.
5. Do your research
Know as much as you possibly can about any prospect you’re targeting. Take educated guesses if you need to and verify as you go along. Never attempt a sales call without doing proper research.
6. Fulfil a teaching role
Aim to teach and inform a prospective client. This could be in the form of a phone/internet conversation, a webinar, an online course, or even an email drip campaign. Anything that will be valuable content. Just make sure you pay attention to what you’re giving away to ensure you have a balance between what’s free and what’s chargeable.
7. Qualify before closing
Always qualify every prospect in terms of finding out if they are going to be a good ‘fit’, whether they have a need now and the right level of budget available. If you can confirm all of that beforehand, you’ll save yourself a lot of time on a sale that may never happen, or could be more trouble than it’s worth.
Just remember, what you’re selling is far more than a product. It’s your whole company, how your solution can help a prospect achieve their goals and what it’s going to be like to work with you.
So, do your research and be fully prepared with stories, facts and figures, then ensure you’re putting all your efforts into leads who tick the right qualifying boxes, and you won’t go far wrong.