Treating Sales Relationships Like Your First Date
The first step is to go directly to the source. A thorough discovery session is often the most overlooked, and most essential, part of the sales process. The back and forth between you and your client should flow naturally. I always think of this phase as the first date. On my first dates with my wife I asked lots of questions. I shut my mouth and listened. Those first dates were where I started to close my greatest deal ever [insert laughs and tears here]. I’m not lying… read the “Good Date” infographic, and even an entry-level salesperson will make the obvious connection. Women, correct me if I’m wrong!
Think about it from your client’s point of view. Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves? Get your client to open up by showing a genuine interest in their business. Go deep in your questioning, make sure you ask smart questions and don’t overkill. Don’t assume you already know the answers to the questions you are asking. That assumption makes you cocky, not intelligent. I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses; they are all the same but they are all very different. It is very easy to overkill with the monotony of a discovery session when you stick to a formatted needs assessment questionnaire and treat it as a “punch list” to knock out before you move to the next phase of the sales process. Remember the first date analogy. Would I have closed my best deal ever by sticking to a script? No.
How Challenging is Your Client’s Marketplace?
Learn about your client’s marketplace and what makes their competition successful.
- How does your client differentiate themselves?
- What is their compelling offer?
- What are their calls to action?
When a new customer chooses between two businesses, the more compelling option wins. A new customer chooses to do business with a particular company because of many reasons such as trust, image, brand recognition and price. Brainstorm with your client and quantify their advantages and disadvantages. Use their expertise. Understand that no amount of your personal research could ever replace your client’s cunning, experience and journey to get to where they are today. The best sales person doesn’t know all the answers. The best sales person knows where to get all the answers. Henry Ford did not build the V-8. The V-8 was built through the collaborative efforts lead by Henry Ford. You follow?
How Technically Advanced Are the Marketing Campaigns of Their Competitors?
The difference between first place and second place can be ultra-slim, and all your client really needs to do to win is be just a little bit better than their competition. Knowing how technically advanced your client’s competition is gives you the ability to recommend what they really need to get into first place. In sales, you have an ethical responsibility to do what is right for your client. Your technical knowledge and informational resources in the digital marketing sphere should be lightyears ahead of your client’s knowledge. If it is not, your client is doomed so please send them my way. I say that in jest, but in all reality you need to respect the power you have with your client and look at that power as your most valable business asset the client relationship. Use your technical knowledge to make the right recommendation, determine strategy and propose levels of aggressiveness to set the budget needed for success.
“A salesperson’s ethics and values contribute more to sales success than do techniques or strategies.” –Ron Willingham, Founder & CEO of Integrity Systems, Inc.
What Are Your Client’s Desires and How Will They Judge the Success of the Campaign?
Is your client looking for ROI, a sexy inbound campaign, rankings or a more robust social following? If your clients are anything like mine, they’re looking for everything at once. You need to know how your client will be judging the project’s success to determine what they really need. Ask them very directly, “what are your key performance indicators?” Knowing their KPIs, build their entire campaign with them in mind. Restate their KPIs and make sure that every element of your proposal points back to their KPIs. Efficient campaign performance is what your client cares about above all else and making sure your plan for their success revolves around their goals shows your attentiveness, expertise and respect.
Tell Your Client What They Need. Be Precise. Back Up Your Opinions.
Above all else, remember that your client is coming to you for a reason. That reason is they do not know how to heal what ails them. Tell your client what they need. You are the expert and your confidence, or lack thereof, in your proposal will be 100% transparent. Remember that your client is smart and will not be fooled for long. In my proposals, facts give me confidence in my success. Behind every recommendation I give, I have ample amounts of data to support my stance. I draw supporting data from my research, but it mostly comes from the collaborative efforts of my team. With this factual precision in my back pocket, I can convey our team’s plan of action in a way that makes sense to both sides of my client’s brain.