Confidence. It seems to be lacking these days. Consumer confidence is down; we see layoffs, failed institutions and more discouraging reports every day. It could be easy to lie down and accept defeat, to throw up our arms and excuse ourselves from lagging sales, growth and aggressive plans.
Because so many of your competitors will do just that, this is exactly the right time to take control and build your confidence. Yes, there are many factors beyond your control, but all that means is that it’s more important than ever to take control where possible. Specifically, take control over those factors that should be a source of confidence.
There is nothing more important to our success than confidence. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by all of the potential sources. Instead, focus on the critical few areas over which you have influence and will provide the greatest return. Regardless of the sources on your list, the following have to be included: prospect pipeline, sales process and critical relationships. In this article, I'll focus on the sales process.
To be successful, we all know you have to believe in the product or service you are selling. It is also just as important to have confidence in your sales process. Your sales process has to be client focused, replicable and, by itself, it must provide value.
Quit thinking about what you have to sell, and start focusing on what your prospect needs to buy. Your process has to be focused on identifying where the prospect has needs and/or opportunities for which you may have the right solution. Remember, you are the expert and have to use your experience to lead the prospect to an understanding of where their needs/opportunities may lie. What is obvious to you may, for them, fall into the category of “not knowing what they don’t know.” To remain client focused, you have the responsibility, through a process of questioning and probing, of guiding the prospect to a fresh/new/clear understanding of their own needs.
We all know the best idea is one which we develop on our own, and it’s the same for your prospect. Now, don’t stop at needs/opportunity identification, keep questioning and probing until the prospect has clarity around the impact of these ideas on their business. Help them quantify the financial impact these new needs/opportunities will have, and help them discover how it will touch on one or more of the following: their profits, employee relationships, client relationships, and/or ownership experience. They now see you as the solution to a problem or the key to capitalizing on an opportunity. In our “What’s in it for me?” world, you better be able to show them.
The shift from focusing on what you have to sell to what the prospect needs to buy is certainly powerful, but with it comes another set of challenges. Because you are now focused on your audience instead of yourself, a one size fits all presentation no longer works. When you are focused on the client, every opportunity takes you to a different solution. You are now the driver on the road of client discovery, a road where the final destination is determined during the journey. No two prospects/clients have the exact same needs, which means there are no exact same solutions. To maintain control, you have to be able to replicate the process through which you guide your prospect. Committing to this approach takes a higher level of expertise, knowledge, insight and confidence.
However, the results more than justify the effort. When you start out knowing that the solution you bring will be specific to the needs of the prospect, the process itself becomes critical. It has to be constant in order to be able to focus on the unique needs/opportunities of the prospect. It’s a little like playing 20 Questions; every game feels the same, but it takes you to a different answer.
How often have you heard, “We have to do more with less”? It’s the reality of the business world in which we live and compete. If you have thought that getting someone to give you their time was difficult in the past, well, that challenge has become exponentially more difficult. And it should be a challenge. We should all be protective of our time. You should have to earn the opportunity be in front of a prospect. This means being able to articulate and show the potential value you could bring if you do business together, as well as providing value to the prospect during the process, even if they choose not to work with you. This may be the biggest challenge yet because you have to provide value without giving too much away.
Ask yourself, are the prospects who never became clients any better off for having spent time with you? Did they get value from what you brought to them? Conceivably, would they have paid for the time they spent with you? If the answer is no, or if you can’t confidently answer with a resounding “Yes!”, then I challenge you to re-evaluate your sales process. Going back to my first point, if the process is client-focused, if you help them see things as they never have before, if you cause them to think and challenge their previously held beliefs, if they have greater clarity of their needs/opportunities because of your process, you will provide value. No, you should never work for free, but you do have to provide value, whether with a prospect or client, with every interaction. When you know in absolute terms your process itself provides value, you will be confident in asking for the opportunity and ultimately for the business.
In coming articles, I will share my thoughts in the other critical areas of confidence. In the meantime, be honest with yourself. Is your sales process a source of confidence? Do you believe it provides you a competitive advantage and is a differentiator in the marketplace? Remember, to the prospect, so much of everything else you bring looks just like what they see from your competition. How you work has to separate you from the competition. Developing such a process takes work and a higher level of commitment, but, ultimately, it is the difference maker.
Now you have a question to ask yourself, “How bad do I want it?”
Originally published on agencyfuel.zywave.com. © Copyright 2010 Zywave, Inc.