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Nicci’s Call: Digging for the REAL Problem

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

I’ve been talking to some Sales Directors recently and they all expressed frustration with the same problem – their sales people take their prospects at face value!

A One-Sided Relationship

With sales people anxious to get their next sale, they are making the sales relationship too one-sided in favour of the buyers. So if a buyer says meet me at 9am on Monday morning in Amsterdam, instead of negotiating a mutually convenient time, the sales person will fly out on Sunday night without having organised enough other appointments in the area. When a simple exploration of other mutually convenient times would make the trip much more beneficial for the sales person with no negative impact on the client.

Or the buyer will say we need to save money on our training services, the sales person will work on slashing their prices rather than find out what the outcomes required are from their training and how effective their current methods have been.

What the buyer is really saying is we want a better return on our training, so understand our needs better and give us a programme that delivers on that.

Dig Deep!

Inexperienced sales people or sales people under pressure are too busy chasing the sale rather than really digging deep and exploring the real needs of the client. That means they are missing bigger opportunities.

We can learn a lot from the Deal Maker in this area. The Deal Maker is great at asking questions, listening and coming up with solutions that grow value for everyone they connect with.

1. Deal Makers will ask more questions…

…than most to establish how best to provide that value, coach out of the client what is really important to them and not accept their first answer on face value. That way they are likely to uncover a bigger problem or the real underlying problem and can provide a solution for that.

For example,

A client asked me to provide a quote for sales presentation skills. When questioning about the need for it now, what were the issues they wanted resolved, etc. it was revealed there was a deeper problem with the sales force, the operations team and the marketing department.

The sales presentation was just the tip of the iceberg. So the training requirement grew from a 2-day course to a few months of working together on tailored programmes.

2. Deal Makers will  listen more than talk

“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know; But when you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama

3. Deal Makers think about the best outcome for all parties

The win-win scenario, even if it is as simple as negotiating a mutually convenient time and place to meet.

If the sales relationship is a 2-way dialogue which works for both parties it is likely to be more efficient and effective for both sides.

For example,

If you are required to put in a tender for some work but see that the tender doesn’t take into account some areas you feel are important. Rather than take the tender on face value and dutifully comply, as all the other sales people are likely to do, raise the issues you see are missing and address how you would resolve those.

The salesperson will earn the respect of the prospect and the prospect is likely to get a better, more informed service.

Explore the Problem

“The customer is always right” was first said by Henry Selfridge in 1909 to expound excellent customer service in his department store. Instead of starting with an assumption that one party is always right, explore the problem in more depth to discover not who is right but what is wrong and how you can resolve it.

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.

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