Many sales professionals believe that sales are made based on the strength of relationships with prospects and customers. In other words, it’s all about who you know.
In the current selling environment, however, some might argue that success in sales is actually more about what you know. According to research conducted by Forum, for example, two of the top three reasons prospects decide to buy from a sales rep include these factors.
- The rep knows my company.
- The rep knows my industry.
Notice that the word “relationship” does not enter into the picture. What does this imply? As Forum General Manager (Americas) Alyson Brandt points out in the video interview below with Selling Power founder Gerhard Gschwandtner, this research indicates that prospects are looking more for value and insight from salespeople rather than a simple connection.
“There are some misnomers about what customers expect,” Brandt says. “It’s a mythbuster to believe that you have to know somebody in order to be effective in a sales role and get a meeting.”
At Forum, we’re working with experienced salespeople to help them become more effective in prospect meetings by leveraging Point of View Selling. Point of View Selling creates new selling opportunities with existing and new customers– whether you have an existing relationship with them or not.
Although Point of View Selling is suitable for all organizations, not all companies are ready for it.Consider the five big questions below to see if your organization is ready to take its sales to the next level.
- Business Fit: Do you offer a mix of products, services and/or complex solutions that can significantly impact your customers’ business value drivers? Point of View Selling hinges on the ability to make that impact clear to the customer.
- Compelling Points of View: Do your salespeople have the ability to deliver unique values that can be potential differentiators in commoditized markets? For example, when a biotech company introduced a revolutionary technology that drastically reduced the time it took to identify an infectious disease, their sales initially underwhelmed. They quickly realized that, rather than focus on the technology itself, they should focus their selling efforts on the unique value the technology created: time. By doing this, they were able to call on senior people and appeal to their need to manage risk and deliver value to their constituents and themselves. For example, they called on heads of state and other dignitaries (e.g., the head of the Summer Games) and asked them whether they could afford to have a pathogen running rampant in an urban area while testing took days.
- Foundational Skills: Do your salespeople have the business acumen, industry knowledge and consultative selling skills needed to succeed?
- Advanced Selling Skills: Can your salespeople then combine that business acumen and industry knowledge to develop high-value and unique points of view, provoke and engage senior-level decision makers, and guide customers in framing complex decisions?
- Sales Support and Infrastructure: Do you have the resources — time, budget and staff — to help craft points of view and support jumping to the next level?
Every sales organization that is implementing or considering implementing a Point-of-View-Selling strategy falls somewhere along the maturity curve suggested by these five questions. Organizations that take realistic views of where they are today and invest in building capabilities across all five of these areas are the most likely to gain competitive selling advantage when adopting higher-level selling approaches.
When was the last time you landed a meeting with a high-level prospect? How were you able to convey insight that grabbed the prospect’s attention? Share your thoughts in the comments section.