How tech could be undermining your sales approach
Huthwaite International's Karen Woodhead reveals how organisations can future proof their businesses
The digital age has transformed the sales arena. But, as we look to technology to adapt our businesses, we risk undermining customer focus and added value.
The digital age arrived in tandem with globalisation. Globalisation increased the need for cost reduction but has this also led to a loss in quality and value for the customer? Many would argue yes. And it’s a key consideration for sales-led organisations. While many feel the digital age must be accommodated – and that’s certainly borne out by the increase in social selling activity – there is also a growing need for a more human approach.
The rise in demand for organic produce, ethical business practices and locally sourced product is no coincidence. Society is breaking away from traditional capitalist behaviour and instead looking to feel more human again. Enter the ‘hipster’ movement – people looking to re-connect in an overly digital world.
How can your sales team respond? The savvy consumer now requires more than just a cost-effective product or service, they want a cost-effective solution.
Buyers – whether consumer or corporate – want to feel important, like they matter. As globalisation and digital connectivity has risen so too has our need for individual acknowledgement. We want the bespoke approach.
We see this time and time again in contemporary marketing. From the success of the personalised Coca-Cola bottle, to the multi-million-pound budget channelled into bespoke digital marketing.
Does this mean our product offerings need to change? No, but while our product may not be bespoke, our approach to selling it should be.
The real priority is for businesses to position their products as solutions. It’s nothing new but it’s still a widely neglected part of the selling process. Where historically you may have sold features or even benefits, it’s now more important than ever to adopt a more consultative approach.
That means forget the sales pitch and, get to know your customer’s needs instead. People buy for the same reasons they always did, to solve problems, avoid unwanted consequences, satisfy needs and reap the benefits of an improved situation. A sales person’s ability to uncover and develop those wants and needs and present a solution is crucial.
And we shouldn’t forget personal motivations either. All else being equal, customers will favour the solution that best meets their personal interests, it’s human nature. But they are unlikely to declare them, and may not consciously be aware of them, so the salesperson must uncover, and sell to, these personal needs too. There are always clues. They may be contextual; someone nearing the end of their career is more likely to be looking for an easy implementation, while someone starting on the career ladder may be looking for a boost. Just two examples.
The lesson is to ascertain the wants and needs and position your product accordingly.
These days we desire greater recognition of our humanity and individuality. The business which recognises and responds to this will be far more effective than the business which doesn’t.
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