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Recently, I asked a group of 20 SME business owners and sales professionals what I believe to be an important sales question: ‘What is the first question your customer is asking themselves when they meet you to discuss your product or service?’ 
Over 80% of the room thought the first question the buyer was silently asking was ‘Can they solve my problem?’ 
I believe this is where many sales go wrong. Right at the start of the meeting, where we convince ourselves that this is the primary interest of the buyer. It may be the primary motivation of the purchase, but it is not the primary interest of the buyer. As a result, the seller starts diagnosing the problem, before moving quickly into solution mode. 
Often they fail to uncover all of the issues and the impact of those issues before moving on to their own products and how they will benefit the client. 
Solutions have no inherent value. It is the problem they solve and/or the result they enable that gives the solution value. Without a contextualised, holistic understanding of the problem and desired outcomes, any proposed solution lacks depth, and can easily be discredited. 
Consistently successful sales people understand that this question, ‘Can they solve my problem?’ comes much later in the discussion, and they take care to keep away from the solution for as long as it takes to correctly and fully identify the problem the customer has and the result they want. 
They know that their product or service is almost irrelevant. What is relevant is the value and transformation it brings across the business. 
So the first question our prospects and customers are silently asking themselves is a very different one, and it has to be answered before you can progress to the later questions. The buyer knows that if you fail to fully appreciate the landscape you cannot successfully build on it. As the sale becomes more complex, this question becomes more crucial. 
Realising that this question needs to be answered first will change the way you approach your sales calls and increase the number of productive conversations you have. The question is; 
Do they understand me? 
In order to make a purchase, now more than ever, your customer has to fit the purchase into an increasingly complex system. They can ill afford to make purchasing errors, the resultant costs and business disruption can be astronomical, 
Your customers need you to demonstrate that you understand how they work, what they do, and why they do it. We need to demonstrate that we understand the critical systemic issues they face in order to meet their objectives. 
They require sales people to meet them where they are, to see what they see. That is when sales people earn the right to get to the second question. 
As a Speaker, Sales Trainer and Accredited Master Coach (CSA), Glen Williamson is passionate about helping SME business owners and sales professionals of all levels reach new height of sales performance delivery.  
Taking his 30 years of experience in sales and business development, Glen founded GWC Sales Training in 2011 to deliver consultancy and training for clients across a wide range of sectors including logistics, financial services and oil and gas. 
Meeting the needs of our increasingly complex and competitive business environment, Glen’s “Master The Sales Conversation Masterclass”, and Complete Target Account Selling Program create interactive opportunities to embed new ideas and techniques for consistent, predictable sales success. 
Glen believes that sales is a collaborative process, part of who we are and how we survive, and at its core, should be a desire to ‘help’, not ‘sell’. 
Tagged as: Sales Strategy, SMEs
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