My first couple of years in sales I applied the "broadcast pitch mode" approach. My thinking was I had to do whatever was required to get an audience with prospective customers and once there, my job was to pitch or present to them "who we are and what we do." What this meant was I would say as much as I possibly could about myself, my company, what we did, what we offered, our candidates, our recruiting process, etc., and HOPEFULLY something in my message would "stick" with the customer. In hindsight I didn't have great success with this approach. Selling was labor-intensive and converting prospects into buyers was like a pushing a boulder uphill! In fact, I remember thinking, "nobody wants to hire temporary help" or use a staffing service and "customers think of temporary staffing as a "necessary evil."
Looking back however I'm grateful for what I learned. I discovered that customers in fact don't want to buy our products or services. In fact, sometimes I'm not even sure they care about the solutions our products and services provide. What I've learned that customers want are the business outcomes they can achieve from using our services or products.
Over the years and even today I've come to believe that there is no inherent value in the products or services we sell (including the training provided by Menemsha Group). The real value comes from how the customer uses our products, services or solutions to achieve their desired business results. Once I learned this I began to look at the act of selling and my sales activities much differently. I engaged my customers much differently and as a result my sales results took off.
In essence I learned that being customer focused means selling business outcomes.
So I'd like to make a suggestion (and frankly, it's imperative in this day and age) that instead of going into "broadcast pitch mode" talking about who you are, what you do and skill marketing candidates, let's change our mindset and focus on how we can help our clients achieve their desired business outcomes or desired business results.
I've learned that to get the sales results you want, you have to learn to help your customers achieve the desired business results they want. This means you have to understand your customer's "current state" and "desired future state" including their desired business outcomes before you start pitching your solution.
If you've received sales training that teaches you to present your candidate or solution offering before uncovering your customer's "current state" and "desired business results," then this approach may feel a little akwayrd. If you have been trained to simply "skill market candidates" or "make ad-calls" (inquire about job postings posted on a job board or client web site), then this approach will require a change in your thinking. Helping your clients achieve their desired business results is a consultative sales approach that stands in stark contrast to how many of us (myself included) were trained to sell staffing services.
When you focus on helping your clients achieve their desired business outcomes two things happen
1.) We Gain a Deeper Understanding: When we cultivate an accurate diagnosis of our clients current situation including the goals and objectives they're trying to achieve and why, and the problems they're trying to overcome, and why, we can ensure that whatever solution we propose is the least risky and perfect fit. We intelligently position our service offering as the "vehicle" for delivering the customer's desired business results. Not only that, we can more effectively qualify opportunities and manage our time which leads to improved sales win rates.
2.) We Make Our Customers Feel Understood: When our customers don't have to experience "death by PowerPoint" in which the salesperson delivers an endless pitch deck discussing "who we are, what we do," they're able to participate in the conversation. The discussion is about them, not us. In turn, we differentiate ourselves not by what we sell but by how we sell. Because the customer has participated in the conversation they feel more confident in us and what we propose.
Both of these points are important but more important then understanding our customer and their business is our customer's need to feel understood. If your customer doesn't feel that you are willing to slow down and actively listen to them and understand them and their business then they will likely continue to look for another vendor.
What Customers Think About
As sales professionals, we spend most of our time thinking about what we need to do to serve our existing customers and acquire new customers. Your buyers also spend their time thinking about their customers. Keep in mind their customers may be internal or external, depending on their role in the company. In general, most buyers think about things like:
- How can my team/department improve the quality of our product or service?
- How can my team/department improve customer retention?
- How can my team/department increase market share?
- How can my team/department increase revenue?
- How can my team/department reduce costs?
In order to position ourselves as a "partner" or "trusted advisor," we have to look beyond what we do for our customers and begin to focus on how we help our customers help their customers. This is how we as sales professionals can truly add value to our customer's business and help them achieve their desired business results.