Dave Shaby is chief operating officer of RAIN Group, a Top Sales Training Company, and author of “Virtual Selling”
One of the greatest difficulties in sales is helping buyers understand what outcomes they’ll achieve when they work with you. Painting a metaphorical picture of what outcomes are possible with the solution you present is imperative for two reasons:
1. Buyers need to be convinced of the positive outcome — and that you can achieve it — or they likely won’t purchase.
2. If your buyer doesn’t fully understand what you’re able to do for them, they can’t communicate it to the rest of the influencers in their organization and your sale may get stuck in endless internal discussions.
Helping buyers to understand the value of the solutions you provide is an exercise in teaching and learning. Buyers need to understand what will be different for them and their organization if they purchase from you versus not doing it at all, or buying from a competitor.
In the end, buyers aren’t interested in buying your solution; they’re interested in what your solution will get them. Whatever your product or service may be, you must show buyers how it can change their world. In other words, you have to create a new reality with them. To do this well, you’ll need to: Establish the new reality benchmark, translate your solution into the case for moving forward with you and paint the picture of the new reality so they can understand it and its value.
1. Establish the new reality benchmark.
For a well-managed sales process, your job is to create and pitch a new reality for your buyer from their perspective given their needs and challenges and the impact of doing (or not doing) something about them.
One of the first steps — even before you have engaged in a complete needs discovery and solution-crafting process — is to ask them what they want their world to look like once your work is done.
Broad sales questions that have your buyer envisioning the future are a good way to get the creative juices flowing. For example:
• What is your current provider delivering in terms of creating the changes you need? Where are they falling short?
• At the end of this engagement, what will success look like to you?
• What do you want to happen because of our work together?
• After working with us for six months, what do you see happening/hope will happen?
Don’t be surprised if your buyer’s first answer to a question is, “I don’t know.” More than likely they’ll also say, “That’s a good question.” If this happens, don’t jump right in. Silence will indicate you expect an answer, and with some thought, they’ll give you one. Prompt them if need be.
2. Translate the new reality.
Whatever their new reality is, you need to describe it to the buyer. Don’t just throw numbers out there because they look good; they need to be substantiated. If the buyer chooses you, what results can they reasonably expect to achieve? For example, you might say you’ll be able to help them:
• Save 22% or $1.2 million on costs for running their warehouses.
• Improve their cycle times by 13 days, cutting out major inefficiencies in operational processes.
• Set up operations for them in a new city that’ll improve quality levels by 17%.
• Improve revenue by $600,000 by increasing the effectiveness of lead generation programs.
When translating the new reality with them, be as specific as possible. Quantify the results, tell stories and give examples of actual results you’ve achieved.
3. Paint the picture of the new reality.
Now it’s time to put the new reality into your proposal. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a chart, graph or table is worth at least that many.
A simple chart outlining the value you’ll deliver will sell better than paragraph after paragraph of prose. In other cases, a table of figures might be the right approach.
You don’t have to rely on just one picture. You can present the new reality in both qualitative as well as quantitative terms, if appropriate. However, try not to spam the buyer with charts and graphs. Only use them if they help communicate your message.
In sales, communicating your value is about painting a rich picture of what your prospect will achieve should they decide to work with you. When done correctly, the new reality will demonstrate that you understand what they’re trying to accomplish, that your solution will get them there and the results you can provide will be superior to other options available.
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