It’s with no doubt that the buying behaviour has evolved. As buyers start doing their own research first before consulting an salesperson, they’re now at the helm of deciding how they want their interactions with a salesperson to go and what information they need from them. Because of this change, salespeople are recognizing that their old ways of selling are quickly becoming ineffective.
The tell-tale sign of a strong sales strategy is not so much about being able to deliver quick sales pitches anymore, but about developing a deep understanding of who your customer is and centering your communications and support around their priorities.
Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself to stay ahead with your competitive advantage in marketing:
1. What is the niche my firm is trying to tap into?
One of the most detrimental mistakes a company can make is not so much not knowing who their customer base is, but that their description and understanding of it is too general. Inbound sales and marketing is all about providing customized and tailored help to prospects, but that can’t happen if you only have a vague idea of who you customer is.
Out of all the things you as a salesperson should give your effort and time to, one of the most invaluable investments is creating a buyer persona for your firm. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer, based on real data and research that you’ve collected from your existing customers. A buyer persona has a name, belongs to a certain demographic, has unique goals and challenges, and consumes information in their own way.
The importance of developing a buyer persona cannot be overstated, as having a clear, tangible representation of who your firm is for and for what niche your services will be of use will guide the rest of your sales efforts to ensure you’re tackling the right issues and problems people are facing. The more details you include in your buyer persona and the more thorough you are will help your firm in the long run.
For example, if you are a financial service firm, your selling pitch for who would need your services may be people who are looking for various investment solutions. But that’s not enough, and is in fact, extremely vague. Here is a sample buyer persona that clearly outlines who the firm is trying to help and for what problem:
Sample Buyer Persona - Mr. CEO Charlie
CEO Charlie works for a large company with over 200 employees. He has worked for the same company for the past 10 years and worked his way up to become the CEO from VP of sales. CEO Charlie is between the age of 50 to 65 and is married with 2 kids. He is the sole provider for his family and he makes $500,000 per year.
His goal in life is to be the best father and husband he can be. Unfortunately, being CEO of the company, he has very little time with his family. Also, he wants to ensure that the wealth that he is accumulating will be preserved for his wife, kids and the next generation. He is not sure how to best do that.
At work, he has an assistant that filters his emails and phone calls. He is extremely busy at work and hard to reach at times. Even his wife has a hard time reaching him sometimes. He likes to consume content on his own time so when he is solicited, he usually asks them to send over information by direct mail or emails.
2. Am I viewing leads as transactional deals to close and nothing more?
As an salesperson, it can be easy to get into the mindset of maximizing closed deals and oftentimes, the consequence becomes that your interactions with leads start resembling that of a sales person. Being too eager in advertising your own products and services in the conversation doesn’t help to build any trust between you and your prospects and may actually lead to them to think that you don’t care and aren’t listening to the challenges they’re facing first.
As a salesperson, you want to be a source of genuine help, not a bucket full of endless sales pitches. Take the time to listen to and assess what goals and challenges they have at their specific point in their buyer’s journey, guide them with relevant content and resources that answer any questions they have, and continue nurturing the relationship with your lead. When you are able to truly provide help to a lead, not only will you be seen as a valuable asset to them, but they will gain increasing knowledge and understanding to continue moving forward through the sales process.
But remember, your communications with the lead don’t stop once they’ve made a purchase. Lead nurturing is a continual process of checking in with your customer beyond the point of purchase and providing them with an excellent experience so that they are happy with your firm’s services and potentially open the door to future referrals.
3. Am I taking full advantage of the use of value propositions?
Now that we’ve identified the need to shift from a mindset of selling to helping and the importance of creating a buyer persona, how can we take these two things and put them together to practically gauge what prospects truly need help with?
The answer is value propositions. What exactly does this mean? After you’ve established a detailed outline of your buyer persona, you’ve probably listed out various pain points they may need help with but you don’t know which particular one is the most important and relevant to them. Value propositions function as a way to start a conversation with a potential lead by running through statements that cover different pain-points to see which is most applicable to them and if your firm can be of help in that area.
Using the above example of CEO Charlie, here’s how we can refine a value proposition to accurately grasp a prospect’s pain-point. Knowing that he strives to preserve his wealth for future generations but desires to spend more time with his family, here is a sample value proposition we could create:
"We help investors who have considerable money to invest, but don’t want to spend the extra time and effort on traditional investment solutions. "
Value propositions should be built around the prospective buyer, not you. You’re trying to figure out if a prospect really does need your help first, so save all the talk about your products and services for later down the road. It’s a good idea to create multiple value propositions to ask to narrow down the pain point that is at the highest priority for your prospect.