Examining Selling Strategies Post COVID-19 (Part 2)
Business guru Paul Boucherle is back with another acronym. Find out how the B.R.I.D.G.E. method can help improve the selling and communication process.
We left off last month building a BRIDGE to your customers’ different stakeholders so that you can deliver a great security/safety plan that will gain consensus and support. With so many new cooks in your kitchen, a good recipe for consistently delivering a five-course meal will depend on your selling process, methods and techniques to earn that five-star customer rating you may covet. Do you have a recipe for success?
Many of you probably have a formalized selling process to your traditional customers and buyers. You know them, their roles and responsibilities, how they make decisions, and how they like to be treated, right? Can you say the same for the human resources, operations, risk management or health and safety teams?
If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then perhaps it is time to get back to the basics of selling the business value of a relationship with your company. Remember, senior management buys business outcomes not products and service solutions! Let’s talk about the first practical steps of your journey.
Review your company core values, culture and who your best customers are today. Why do they buy from you? Do you REALLY know that answer from their perspective? Once you confirm the underlying business outcomes that drive your best customers, then condense and summarize the benefits of doing business with your company.
Limit this to three crystal-clear benefits. Now you are ready to expand that unique competitive advantage into learning if other departments value them or if they have other perspectives to teach you. Want an example from my past?
“Ms. IT manager, our customers tell us our policy of keeping critical spare parts inventoried on their sites is important to their need for a one service call resolution to keep critical networks operational. What benefits would this approach have for your department’s goals?”
Make sure you clearly communicate these critical competitive business outcome guidelines to all your employees with a strong effort focused on sales leadership and salespeople. This is vitally important to ensure everyone is on the same message. A consistent message needs to be shared with new people in all departments along with new goals and objectives.
Next, make sure you thoroughly do your homework, but do not get caught up in analysis paralysis. People and specifically your prospects do not have the time or patience to school you on their company. High school or college, yes; but not the basics. Doing your homework simply communicates respect and preparation to understand before you start selling.
You will discover that another great benefit in doing your homework is to help set the stage to ask more insightful questions. This will change how you are perceived. Are you a salesperson or a potentially valuable resource partner? You get to choose.
Here are the Matterhorn Consulting BRIDGE method steps to point you in the right direction.
Barriers – recognize what issues, real or imagined, will enhance or derail building a relationship with these different departments. Clients can block progress and create barriers to the financial decision maker if you are viewed as a product and price provider.
Restate – what your understanding is to clarify the challenges in achieving your customer’s goals. Qualifying sales opportunities is your prime directive to be successful. Make sure you really understand what they shared with you. It will be vital to get it right during the final step of the engagement.
Introduce – new approaches, solutions, methods or designs that challenge the status quo or perhaps customer’s perceptions. This takes some gumption. Be bold yet respectful.
Discover – the common ground between department stakeholders, political influence realities and possible strategies/tactics to engage. Gain momentum by asking the right questions based on your knowledge of their company.
Gather – the various stakeholders to collaborate and share, and to gain consensus on the priority and what everyone’s role is to accomplish it. If you have done your homework and asked appropriate questions, you can ask for this stakeholder meeting. Plant seeds and nourish relationships.
Engage – the stakeholders to facilitate meetings with senior management to share an integrated, well-thought out strategy that deserves to be funded to move forward. Stakeholders want to know what you will present to ensure they look good to their boss. Motivated stakeholders that understand how you will make their lives easier during difficult times make great allies with the boss. Consider collaborating with your senior management team to bring “like rank” selling strategy to cement commitments.
Finally, build your library of knowledge of what works with what departments and with what verticals in regular and disciplined sales meetings.
Typically, salespeople keep their knowledge and skills to themselves as a form of a misguided job security blanket. Your clarity of company culture, values and beliefs will help sales leaders break through this passive resistance.
Your customers will recognize and appreciate your new selling process. If they do not, are they ever going to become your best customers?
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