• Duane Cashin

How to Successfully Sell in the Current Business Environment

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

These are hard and scary days. There is an appearance that everything has come to a virtual standstill.

Your salespeople who were crushing numbers yesterday aren’t today, and they’ll continue to struggle. What can we do to keep our companies afloat?

We have a choice. We can let the current situation distract us and get us down, or we can fight with new resolve to sell in a time of crisis.

This will be a challenge, but you certainly can plant seeds, shore up loyalties, and establish new relationships that will position your team for an exciting re-entry into profitability when the smoke clears!

An excellent place to start is to revisit the elements of consultative selling and establish relationships with leaders and decision-makers. Keep in mind that your customers and prospects are also looking for ideas that will help them move forward.

The bottom line is that transactional selling -- which focuses on the product, its features and price -- will stop working all together.

Consultative selling -- which focuses on providing business value -- is the approach that will enable your sales organization to establish equal business stature with leaders and capture the attention of decision-makers.

Consultative selling has less to do with “what” the prospect is buying and more to do with their “compelling reason” to buy. Their compelling reason is the “why” behind their motivation to purchase your product.

That is, it focuses on how your product or service impacts the customer’s productivity, profitability, operating costs, and position in the market.

Their compelling reason is usually focused on solving a problem that is getting in their way of being successful or taking advantage of an objective that will give them a competitive advantage.

Selling consultatively requires that the salesperson knows more about the customer, the goals they have for their business, changes they want to make within their company, and the results they hope to achieve. It then requires the salesperson to make a compelling case for how your product or service can create real value and do so more effectively and efficiently than the competition.

Consultative selling is, therefore, both an art and a science. And the salespeople who are capable of melding the art form of reading people and communication with business principles are rare.

According to my partner organization Objective Management Group (OMG), which has evaluated and assessed nearly 2 million salespeople, only 15% of all salespeople have consultative selling as a strength.

That number is misleading because most of that 15 % make up the top 5% of all salespeople. 60% of the top 5% have consultative selling as a strength, but only 3% of the bottom half of all salespeople do. That’s bad news because the vast majority of salespeople are in the bottom 50%!

To get ready to take advantage of the pent up demand that is now being created, I would suggest that you prepare your company’s salespeople to become proficient at consultative selling. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Evaluate your sales force.

A data-driven, scientifically-backed sales assessment like this one will provide in-depth insight into these three things about your sales force:

  • How to make decisions to right-size your sales organization -- who is most well-suited to grow the business in each of your selling roles and who isn't.

  • How big the gap is that your salespeople must overcome to become proficient at a sales process that supports both consultative and value-based selling, who will be able to make the transition, how long that transition will take, and how much training and coaching will be required.

  • How big the gap is that your sales managers must close to become proficient at sales coaching to support those salespeople.

There are many more important insights and findings that will come from a good sales based assessment, but these are the three that will ensure you’re on the right track to becoming strong, consultative sellers.

2. Optimize your sales infrastructure.

  • Your sales process must be optimized to support consultative selling.

  • The sales process must be milestone-centric, and it must move your salespeople through the gates necessary to arrive at a successful conclusion, a closed sale!

  • Your team must be lean and efficient. To make it that way, identify and eliminate underperforming salespeople who cannot become consultative sellers, and replace them with salespeople who can sell in the new business environment.

  • Choose the right CRM tool, one that integrates your optimized sales process and pipeline, has built-in playbooks and focuses on sales opportunities instead of data entry.

  • Eliminate unnecessary layers of management and right-size the reporting structure.

3. Train, drill, coach, repeat.

Sales managers need to be excellent coaches, no exception. To that end, select the proper sales management training that will turn your salespeople into consultative sellers, and run daily drills so that they can practice those skills before (and after!) they ever meet with prospects.

What worked last month isn’t working now, and chances are, it won’t work next month either. We’re facing a new reality and a new selling environment.

We would like to help you get ahead of the curve and prepare your team for a rapid reentry when the dust settles. Give us a call to get started.

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