This article is part of our Key Fundamentals of IMPACT Selling® series.
Time To Persuade
The first three steps of the IMPACT Selling® System (Investigate, Meet, and Probe) revolve around understanding the customer. The last three steps (Apply, Convince, and Tie-It-Up) have to do with persuasion.
Some buyers, unfortunately, associate persuasion with manipulation or coercion. They mistakenly view persuasion as an attempt to deceive or influence others against their will or best interests.
The true goal of consultative selling couldn’t be more contrary to that viewpoint. The purpose of the Apply step is to take everything learned in Probe and restructure it in a way that the customer understands.
The Three Segments of Applying
The Apply stage can be divided into three segments. As we look at each of them, consider which area can yield the greatest improvement for your team.
1. Seeing value through the customer’s eyes.
Salespeople tend to overestimate their ability to understand their customers. The problem is that your sellers are so experienced in dealing with the customer’s problem that they assume they already understand what’s going on. They wind up not asking enough of the right questions. I know this ties in deeply with the Probe step, but the strength of your value formula (your ability to apply a solution) is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of the questions you ask.
Most people have value propositions that involve saving or making their customer money. Yet, when I ask salespeople, “What is your customer going to do with all the money you save them?” — they often don’t know. They guess and tell me, “The customer is going to reinvest it in the business,” and perhaps they are. But it’s also just as likely that they’re going to take their family on vacation, put their kids through college, or save for retirement. In truth, there are an endless number of possibilities of what a customer can do with profit or savings, and you won’t know if you don’t ask.
2. Building out your value formula.
There is an alternative option for every purchase your customers make. The reason customers buy from you (or your competitor) is because of the value the purchase represents.
If you need a refresher of The Brooks Group’s Value Formula, you can get one here. In short, your perceived benefits must outweigh the perceived price and emotional cost associated with buying.
Sometimes our value construct isn’t important to the customer. There are people who spend six figures to buy a Tesla, and it’s not because electric vehicles are better for the environment.
The primary emotional drivers that we see are reliability, expediency, service, peace of mind, and convenience.
As a sales manager, you need to make sure your team knows how to uncover the customer’s wants in addition to their needs. Yes, the customer needs to buy something, but there is also something they want to get from the transaction. That want is a powerful perceived benefit.
3. Overcoming objections.
Anytime a salesperson has to negotiate, it means the customer objects to something. Remember, an objection is always an unasked question. Every time your salespeople get an objection, they should be asking themselves, “What question could I have asked earlier to uncover this objection?”
This is an instance where the best defense is truly a good offense.
Salespeople are taught to lean so heavily on open-ended questions (which are great for gaining understanding) that they forget the value of closed-ended questions for gaining commitment.
Teach your team to say something like: “Provided I deliver on the parameters we talked about, is there anything that will prevent us from moving forward?”
The customer will either say, “No”, in which case you move forward, or they’ll reveal an objection. If they say something like, “Honestly, I haven’t heard great things about your aftermarket service,” your response should be, “While I have the utmost confidence in our service, I understand my confidence is second to yours. What do I need to do to demonstrate our ability to deliver on our promises?”
Once the customer tells you what needs to happen, you can regain commitment by saying something like, “Okay. If I can do everything you just said, is there any reason we wouldn’t be able to move forward?”
Sales professionals have an easier time closing business when they can handle objections before presenting their solution as opposed to after.
Coach Your Salespeople Before They Present a Solution
Your greatest opportunity to coach your team is before they present solutions to their prospects and customers.
A lot of sales managers spend a lot of time debriefing salespeople about how a meeting went after a solution was presented. It feels productive, but you can’t change the outcome of a meeting that’s already happened. It’s far better to invest your time in your team before they present a solution.
Doing this ensures the three rules of IMPACT Selling® are followed: Don’t skip a step, don’t leave a step until you’ve completed it, and make sure you and the customer are in the same step at the same time.
The IMPACT Selling® System will give your team the advantage they need. Get your team trained and you’ll discover what our clients already know: sellers who follow our structured sales process close more business with greater confidence and less hassles.