80% of salespeople say they sell to meet needs. 80% of customers say they don’t. What about needs-based selling?
How can 2 groups of people, with common interests to an extent, have such a divergence of opinion of the same transaction?
We think it’s all in the mind of the salesperson.
As salespeople we enter in to discussions with our customers with our heads full of all sorts of pressures and information. New products, sales targets, proposals we need to get done, availability of resource to deliver products, after sales service, the fact that we’re short of staff today and there are new regulations coming in that we need to learn.
Plus we’re still thinking about the discussion we had with our previous customer.
Phew! What were we talking about?
Oh yes, the needs of our customer. With all the above pinging around in our heads, how much are we focussing in them?
We think this is where the disparity of the initial equation kicks in. We think we sell to meet needs, but we actually don’t. Indeed, if we’re selling to meet anybody’s needs it’s our own rather than our customers. And with all of the above issues pinging around in our heads is it any wonder?
Common traps that we as salespeople fall into include:
- Thinking we’ve heard it all before. We haven’t, at least not from this customer.
- Formulating a solution before we’ve fully understood the needs of the client.
- Not listening.
- Not fully understanding the needs of the customer, not asking enough questions.
- Having preconceived ideas of what the customer is looking for.
- Being distracted.
- Bringing the conversation down to a discussion on price. As salespeople we focus on price far too often.
- Taking what the customer is asking for at face value, rather than exploring what their needs really are.
Most salespeople find the idea of the hard sell abhorrent. So do we. Yet by not properly exploring the needs of their customers that’s exactly what most salespeople are doing. By not adequately exploring needs we’re probably selling our customers products that aren’t best for them. 80% of the time according to customers.
We believe this applies to the extent that most customers expect to be sold to. In other words, it’s poor practice by salespeople that’s creating the focus on price, not necessarily customers looking for the cheapest rate. This being the case customers get the message that the salesperson isn’t really interested in understanding their needs or building a relationship with them, which drives them to look for the cheapest price. This in turn drives salespeople to focus on price to the detriment of properly exploring needs.
So how do we break this vicious circle?
We believe it’s simple. We start doing what we say we do, that is exploring the needs of the customer. Properly. Needs-based selling. Fully understanding their needs before we even think of a product or service to offer. It does sound simple doesn’t it? But customers say we don’t do it 80% of the time.