Shorten the Sales Cycle to Increase Sales with a Consultative Selling Method
Imagine working on a project months on end to get to the conclusion where the customer says, "I just don't see enough value to take on the additional risks". Worst yet are the studies which show sales cycles are getting longer and there are more members on the buying committee.
Our clients embrace the belief, "bad news early is good news" to help sales work on those projects which have a higher likelihood of leading to a win-win with their customers. This is the "what and why", as in most things, the devil is in the details around the "how and when" to accomplish this based on helping the customer create a vision of a solution, based on value.
One of the first steps is to break down the buying cycle into manageable phases. We use the buying phases from one of the largest studies done on buyers in the past by Xerox. Think of the "decision makers", not procurement, when reading the word "buyers".
The first buying phase is discovery and the buyer is focused on the people who can help them discover their compelling needs and assist in developing a vision of a solution.
During this initial phase the main buyer concerns are needs and a solution, discussing product or service details is out of alignment with the buyers concerns.
A consultative selling method allows the sales team to have a business conversation and help the buyer during the discovery phase identify their needs. As the needs are defined, the reasons which are preventing the company from achieving their needs can be explored and the associated cost with each reason. In addition, appropriate capabilities, (not product feature statements), can be lined up with the associated reasons.
At this point the buyer can begin to form a vision of a solution based on value in their mind, (not the sellers). Our clients have sales document the value back to the client in writing. This allows the creation of one of the first gates around “bad news early”. If the value is too low to justify an investment, the interest in pursuing a project is likely low for both the buyer and the seller.
During the second buying phase, evaluation, the focus shifts from the people who can help them to the products or services offered.
The buyer is now interested in proof the offered products and services can help them achieve their needs and transitioning to the new vision is possible for their business.
The curse of knowledge says, “The customer knows how to evaluate our products and services". However, if you are selling difficult to understand products and services, this is rarely a true statement. Especially if your company offers unique capabilities.
Using a consultative approach, a mutually acceptable buying evaluation plan is prepared between the seller and the buying committee, (which may be one person).
A properly created buying evaluation plan will help the customer make better and faster decisions working towards a time line they have agreed upon during the creation of the written evaluation plan. Having a plan in place also allows sales, and the buying committee, to question when milestones are being delayed. Numerous delays begin to paint a picture around priorities, overall value of the project and the potential of "bad news early".
The final buying phase, commitment, may naturally occur providing there is sufficient value to proceed.
It is not uncommon for our clients to tell us they have large projects which proceed with no price concessions at the end. If negotiation comes up, using consultative selling skills around negotiation and proper training, sales goes in prepared with "give-gets" to provide an overall "win-win" outcome. Avoiding heaving price negotiations, or in some cases, "bad news early" if the customer is not reasonable.
Our clients demonstrate, shortening the sales cycle is achieved when a consultative selling method is lined up with the buying cycle. This helps increase sales by focusing on those opportunities with the best value and leads to better and faster buying decisions.
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