BY Nabin Shrestha
Selling is a profession of giving. Every time you interact with a customer, send an email, or create something, you must consider, "What am I giving?" The answer should be "industry information," "insight into the market," "tips that will make their jobs easier," or "the solution to a problem they haven't been able to solve." It should never say, "More information about myself." No problem, no sale: Problems lead to impact, and impact is where urgency, value, and need reside, as well as where the sale takes root. In every sale there’s a gap: Gap selling is the tactful challenge of buyers' assumptions. All sales are about change: Customers purchase because they have become uncomfortable and have found something that will alleviate their discomfort. Sales are emotional: Understanding your customers' emotional states — particularly what brought them there — is critical to closing a sale.
i. Sales happen when the future state is a better state: You can't sell a future state (where your customer wants to be) unless you first understand where your customer is right now. Make a Problem Identification Chart before you begin contacting prospects. Make a list of all the problems that your product or service can solve. While you’re at it, you also want to understand how your customers will feel once their problems have been addressed. ii. Get them to let you help: When selling, your first priority should be to persuade the customer, buyer, or prospect to allow you to assist them. All of the time you spend trying to get prospects to take a call, a demo, or a meeting will be for naught if you don't do it in such a way that prospects believe you have the expertise and credibility to solve their problem. You must persuade your customers that you understand their world and their suffering. They must believe you are there for them and not for yourself. iii. Discovery: Know your clients better than they know themselves: The sale is won at the beginning, not the end. The number of questions you ask early in the sale cycle increases your chance of making the deal. i. Probing: These are open-ended questions that seek specific information ("Tell me a little bit about..."). "Please assist me in comprehending..." "Could you please describe..." "Please walk me through..." ii. Process: These are open-ended questions that ask, "How do [they do what they do with specific steps]?" iii. Provoking: These are open-ended questions that gently nudge customers to reconsider their current situation. Provoking questions are designed to get the buyer to think about their problems in new ways, rather than simply challenging them (What happens if you...?) Validating: Not open-ended inquiries! Instead, these simply allow you to repeat information you've gathered back to your customer to ensure you've understood everything they've said. Psychologists commonly advocate validation as a communication strategy for strengthening personal relationships. iv. Know your customers’ Why: Consider your customers as a three-part entity in the future i. technical future state ii. business future state iii. the “core: of the future state (ex: beat the competition; increase the stock price; etc.) v. Manage the pipeline: When you collect all of the information about a customer's current state, future state, gap, intrinsic motivation, and decision-making criteria, you gain credibility. Your sales team will tell you what they think, what they intuit, and what they can extrapolate based on previous experiences or behaviour. When it comes to gap selling, all you need are the facts. There are no stories.
When your team understands what you expect of them, they will rise to the occasion. vi. Build a commit culture: You must allow your sales team to commit to whatever number they believe is correct. You cannot tell them to change their ways or to seek new opportunities. Commit is a game of precision rather than goal scoring. So, if someone says they are committing to a number lower than their quota, you must accept it. We are trusting and verifying rather than questioning and interrogating. There is a gap at the heart of every sale. It's the difference between what buyers have now and what they think they want in the future, between who they are now and who they want to be tomorrow, or even between where they are now and where they want to go.