One of the biggest problems I notice in the sales teams we train is the title of today’s article.
It is notorious for the misunderstanding of the customer’s reality.
This misunderstanding involves many aspects.
It starts with the positioning of our product or service, then goes through the sales process, where the understanding of the customer’s business and their needs is not always the most correct, and usually ends in the closing process, where the sales person often does not understand the conditioning factors of the closing process or the most pressing issues for the customer that must be resolved before going ahead.
So much misunderstanding?
Is it a misunderstanding, or is it, in most cases, a lack of investment by the salesperson in the sales process?
In our opinion, it is more about this.
What we notice in the commercial day-to-day of the companies is that many of the people involved in the sales process do not invest enough time in the preparation and conduction of the commercial process.
Sometimes it’s not even entirely their fault. Many times the amount of things asked of them is so significant that when they are in the field, the last thing they give importance to is the little things.
But in other cases it’s laziness, it’s too much work, it costs too much to invest our time.
Or, if you want the “magic” phrase:
“Why should I be bothering you? It’s not even my company!”
In these cases, people forget that they don’t work for the company.
When I say this in training, most people look at me with question marks, to say the least.
When I explain it, some people’s heads light up.
What I usually say is that each person is a company.
In other words, I don’t work for company X or Y. In practice, I am a company called “John, S.A.. “
And when we look at things this way, when our client is the company we work for, the situation changes.
We start to invest more, to prepare better the commercial processes, to give, as we say in our jargon, the “small steps.”
Even because our reputation is at stake and if we don’t give our all, our company will not succeed, and our clients will stop working with us.
Nothing that doesn’t resemble what happens in reality, right?
But then, which points are important if we want our salespeople to really understand their customers?
Not so long ago we held a training and commercial streamlining program for one of our largest clients, and it had precisely that name:
“Understanding the customer!”
In this process, we divided sales into various phases, and with the help of the whole team, we went step by step to understand where it was possible to improve the commercials’ understanding of the process and if they understood the customer in each of the phases.
For example, in the field of product or service positioning, because in this case, they had both situations, we analyzed together whether the customer perceived the sales or marketing arguments that the salespeople were using in the initial approach.
How was this done?
Incredibly, we asked several of their customers what their understanding was.
I can tell you that it was an eye-opener that allowed us to have feedback external to the company and validated by the reality of their market, and that allowed us, in some situations, to increase the efficiency of the entry process in the companies by 5% to 10%.
Then we analyzed the commercial’s understanding of the customer’s situation, needs, and day-to-day problems. Finally, we returned to the training room to restructure their internal training process.
I can’t tell you what things were done, as the process in question is sensitive, and we don’t want to break our client’s trust.
To explain the process, we would have to go into detail about their internal operations.
If you want an alternative way, start pairing older with newer salespeople and ask them for feedback after the visit. Analyze where the discrepancies are in each other’s understanding and then fine-tune the process.
More steps in between have been worked out, but since we don’t have all the time in the world and the article is already long, I will now tell you about the closing process.
We have noticed from analysis and follow-up with salespeople in the field that most salespeople are unaware of the non-apparent signs of the sale that indicate closure or refusal in relation to the situation.
Notions of body language or other more profound ones in the scope of NLP or other more psychological areas of study are frequently left out of commercial processes.
Here what was done was to adapt from one of our training programs, a specific module that we call “Psychological Selling,” which involves all these aspects.
I can tell you that the results were, in fact, incredible.
None of this is unfamiliar to salespeople. The problem is that many of them do it instinctively and unconsciously. They become even better by bringing all these issues into the realm of the conscious and demonstrating them with everyday examples.
So this week, stop for a moment to think:
“Are my commercials actually understanding their customers?”
Also published on Medium.