When a business that has been successful for years begins to struggle, it’s scary and confusing. You can’t help but wonder why your best sales tactics, the ones that you have relied upon for the last 20 years (and have gotten you where you are today), are no longer working.
Welcome to the club, you are not alone.
The fact is, in recent years there has been a huge shift in the way products and services are sold. To be honest, if you are still doing business the way you were in 1995 it’s not surprising that you’re struggling. Most likely your products or services have transformed with the times. So why shouldn’t your sales practices evolve too?
Of course we can blame the internet for this disruption. The availability of information at our fingertips has changed the way we make purchases. That’s very clear. What’s not necessarily clear to business owners and salespeople is how to evolve their business practices to remain competitive and continue to grow.
It’s hard to give up on the best sales tactics you built your business around. And in some cases they shouldn’t all be abandoned completely. What is important is adapting to how your customers want to be sold and even more importantly “served.”
Create a customer-focused sales approach
Searching the internet for a new list of best sales tactics is not going to bring you success. What works for others won’t necessarily work for you. Why? Because they are not selling to the same people with the same problems and concerns.
Instead, start by taking a hard look at who you’re selling to and build a sales process that is 100% customer focused.
1. Develop your ideal customer profile (ICP)
This is an often overlooked exercise that has tremendous value. As a seasoned business professional, I am sure you have worked with clients who were less than ideal. Those customers tend to take up more of your time, often draining resources and dragging down the spirits in your company. Focusing on ideal customers will shorten your sales cycle, improve client retention rates, and develop raving fans, all of which will impact your bottom line.
An ideal customer profile IS a description of the company or organization that is the best fit for your products or services. It is NOT the individuals or end users – those are personas. Knowing exactly who you want to serve makes it easier to develop the best sales tactics for engaging those companies and those people.
Typically an ICP includes basic demographic information such as size, location, revenue, and industry. We recommend digging a little deeper and uncovering characteristics that might contribute to a better fit, such as the culture of an organization.
Another tip is to create a list of companies you have been most successful serving. What characteristics do they all have in common that make them a successful customer?
Would your salespeople be able to clearly define your ideal customer? Make this a collaborative effort to ensure buy-in.
2. Learn about the buyers & decision makers in your ideal organizations
The people you want to reach are avoiding you. They do not want to talk to you until they are ready. But the reality is, they do need help and advice prior to that time. That’s why personas are more important than ever and absolutely critical to developing the best sales tactics.
Persona research provides you with details about your prospects that helps you become a valuable resource for them. Here’s what you can learn:
- The challenges and problems they face day to day
- Where they would look for advice
- How finding the right solution would impact their life
- What they want and need in a solution
- What success looks like for them
- The steps they will take to explore options
- Who else in their organization may be involved in the decision making
A good salesperson today will take the time to understand their buyer’s world from all angles and try to help them solve their problems (versus sell them a solution). This means they need to:
STOP the cold calls (looking for the quick win and pushing hard and fast for the demo) and
START positioning themselves as a helpful resource and advisor.
Read up on buyer personas on the HELLO Marketing blog.
3. Listen, learn, and provide answers
Bring efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability to your sales organization (and support your best sales tactics) by developing a series of steps to follow when engaged with a prospect. Some call this process “lead stages” and/or “deal stages.” Whatever you call it, building a process that works for your prospects and sales people helps everyone meet their goals.
Again, engage your salespeople in this work to create alignment within the organization and a set of standards you can hold everyone accountable to. Every organization’s sales process is a bit different, but the following is a good basic structure:
- Set expectations by sharing your process with the prospect early in the conversation, so you can maintain complete control over the sales process. When you do this, you can avoid issues like having to answer pricing questions before you are ready.
- Be adamant about not moving from one step to the next without obtaining all of the information you need. For example, schedule a follow up discovery session if you did not get all of the answers you needed during the first meeting – your presentation depends upon it!
- Make sure all stakeholders are present when necessary.
Use the best sales tactics to engage your prospects
As you work through these steps, it should become clear why some of your old best sales tactics are just not working anymore. You may be talking to the wrong type of organization or you may not be addressing their needs in a way that gains their trust and helps them see you as a valuable resource.
People are avoiding unsolicited interruptions in their day. Cold calls or emails will most likely be ignored and unanswered, making them a waste of time.
Work to get the attention of and engage your ideal customers and personas with better tactics that provide answers to their questions and needs. Be the source they turn to when they are ready to talk!
Not sure how to start improving your sales process? Contact HELLO Marketing for a free 20-minute consultation. Just call Lauren at 973.214.5942 or email her at [email protected].