Bridging the Sales Experience Gap – Part II
Using Frameworks to Aid Your Sales
In part one of ‘ Bridging the Sales Experience Gap’ we discussed the Approach Strategy framework which describes four distinct styles of selling, dictated by complexity and value. Since beginning to use the frameworks to explain how experienced sales people make decisions about sales situations, we have developed to a total of nineteen framework diagrams. You can view the list at:www.salessense.co.uk/adaptive_frameworks.htm
The ‘Meeting Tactics’ framework
When you are face to face with a prospective customer, if you always use the same style or method of communication, you are unlikely to be successful every time. Adapting for the person, their circumstances, and their attitude towards you is an essential part of achieving consistent success. In part one of this series, we began with this question sent in by an overseas subscriber - “How do you teach young sales reps how to READ the client, how to understand their personality and only provide the information when the client is OPEN to receiving it?” A framework that depicts the sales challenge and illustrates the options, offers an answer.
Searching out and articulating customer benefits is a natural thing to do in selling. If you can pile enough value on your side of the equation, a favourable decision becomes inevitable, or so it would seem. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t always work. Rationality is in the eye of the beholder.
If you really want something, you will be eager for any information that helps you justify the acquisition of what you want. If you would like to own a Mercedes and feel you can’ t afford one, you will lap up any scrap of an idea that suggests you can realise your dream.
On the other hand, or on another day, you may be feeling differently. Perhaps you have just had to settle a flurry of bills, or have just sat through a budget cutting meeting. Your mind will be focussed on other priorities or worse, on reducing spending. Any number of circumstances can enhance the sceptic in you. When this is the case, you may deny the validity of evidence and use your creativity to block any pressure to act or spend.
The diagram illustrates the importance of assessing a buyer’ s attitude, before deciding how to manage the meeting. Knowledge of the buyer’ s circumstances helps experienced sales people anticipate the level of welcome or scepticism they will face when meeting the buyer. Ability to assess rapport and read non verbal signals enables sales people to check their standing with a buyer.
Forward selling a highly sceptical buyer
This is unlikely to be effective. Sceptics will be suspicious of your questions and guarded in their response. They will assume that you are exaggerating, miss representing, or even lying about the product or solution you are proposing. As a result you will provoke a debate about the validity of the information you discuss or present. Using traditional sales principles, you will be speaking about advantages and benefits using the most positive terms you feel justifiable. This just makes the situation worse. The buyer uses his or her intelligence and creativity to prove that you are wrong. People who adopt an opposing position are rarely won over by a debate or argument – which is what the engagement often becomes when traditional sales techniques are dashed on a barricade of scepticism.
Reverse selling a sceptical buyer
Suppose you are sceptical about the value of buying a Mercedes however, you do need to buy some form of transport. How would you react if the Mercedes sales person said you should look at something more practical? You might be offended. If the message had been expressed in a disarming way, then you would probably want to know why the sales person thought that you shouldn’ t buy a Mercedes. Reverse selling means doing the opposite of what the buyer expects a sales person to do. Done well, reverse selling will entice the most sceptical buyer to begin selling themselves.
Reverse selling an eager buyer
Suppose you really, really want a Mercedes. How quickly would you get irritated with a sales person who seemed to be trying to put you off? Sometimes sales people try to withhold pricing information until they have established need and value. When people try this on me, I tend to get irritated quickly. This may be a personal thing however, when I want to buy something, I want to do my due diligence, my way. I expect sales people to help me buy the way I want to buy. Those who insist on following their own agenda quickly get to do so without my presence.
Forward selling an eager buyer
Such situations should take place as an entirely natural collaboration between buyer and seller. It should be straight forward for the sales person to discover how the buyer makes good decisions. Once understood, the seller can align his or her efforts with the buyer’ s purpose and preferences. You would think it should be easy! Sometimes the challenge is to avoid getting in the way. The ‘Meeting Tactic’ s’ Adaptive Sales Framework diagram helps sales people recognise the need for careful observation and flexibility of response, when meeting potential buyers. Learning and practising different styles vastly expands opportunities to help buyers get the right results.
Frameworks like this provide the tools to overcome the greatest challenge to success, a lack of forethought, planning, and preparation. Henry Ford put it better, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”
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