Over the last year or so, I have been talking about a major shift in sales from simple transactional sales to more complex solution sales. This is the obvious trend in payment processing no matter where you look. One of the best books I have ever read on this topic is “The Challenger Sale” and in this book they identify 5 types of sales professionals with one type being the clear winner and one being the clear loser in the new solution sales environment. After interviewing 2,500 sales professionals and identifying the top producers, they learned that reps primarily focused on “Relationship Building” did very poorly in the new sales environment.
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The clear winner was a type of sales rep they called “Challengers.” A “Challenger” sales rep is someone who challenges their prospects with insights about their business that they never thought of before. In my Online Training Courses I have one on “Solution Sales” and I talk about the importance of creating demand for your solutions not just filling the demand that already exists.
When you are trying to learn what your customer already know they need, you are stuck competing on price. This is because if they already know that they need what you have to offer, it will probably be very difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition other than with a lower rate. On the other hand, if you present them with a problem that didn’t even know they had, you will be in the best position to provide the solution to the problem because they will value not only the solution itself but they will also value your advice and relationship.
I think the biggest irony in the study for me was that the sales reps who were focused on relationship building and making clients like them, were the ones that prospects said were wasting their time. The “Challengers” on the other hand, were focused on educating their clients with innovative ways to improve their business. As a result, they had developed peer level relationships with their prospects in clients that were significantly better than the “Relationship Builders.”
So, if you want to build solid, long term relationships with your prospects and clients, stop focusing on building the relationship and instead, focus on becoming an expert in your given field and provide unique insights to your prospects about problems that are costing them money and solutions that you are uniquely positioned to provide.
Have a great day!
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