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Benefits No Longer Sell. But This Will.

We live in an era with a heaving buffet of information about customer prospects, their markets, and their businesses at our fingertips. Yet despite this wealth of information available to help us build a case for access to new prospects, sales professionals still struggle to stand out or get noticed.

Too many sellers follow the age-old routine of talking about their product or service and offering up a tempting plate of benefits such as “use our service and double your revenue” and “we will drive more leads to your website.” What prospect doesn’t want more leads or a 100% increase in revenue? Just one problem. These types of generic benefits and hollow promises are coming from everyone, everywhere, all of the time. Customers are weary. They don’t believe you. They don’t hear you.

Face facts. Benefits alone don’t sell. Standing out in today’s marketplace requires a laser focus on being the most relevant. And I mean relevant from the prospect's point of view, not from the seller's. Buyers crave relevance. And they’re not getting it because sellers are busy providing generic information about their company, service, or solution, and they fail to position the right attributes in the context of what matters most to the specific buyer.

So what’s the answer?

Make the shift from the old-school ABC of always be closing to a new triad of selling ABCs that ensures your relevance in a cluttered business environment.

Always be contributing.

Many sellers have the same intent: Find a need and close the sale. Always be closing.

It’s this focus on closing that’s causing talented sales professionals to unconsciously lengthen sales cycles and deliver desirable business opportunities to their competitors’ doors.

Every prospecting message, every call, presentation, proposal, and meeting must contribute relevant value. Otherwise you are simply adding cost, wasting time, and making yourself indistinguishable. So who defines value? The receiver. Not the giver. In order to be relevant to me, you must contribute value by my definition — not yours. Which requires you to execute the second of the selling ABCs.

Always be curious.

Curiosity is not the simple act of asking questions to get information to make a sale. If you’ve been on the receiving end of one of these mind-numbing fact-finding interrogations, you’ll understand why buyers scurry for cover behind email and RFPs. Every seller is trained to ask questions to discover needs. This is important, but it’s not enough. And it’s not curiosity.

Curiosity in the context of selling is a genuine interest in deepening your understanding of the people, businesses, and markets you serve. The “always” in ABC means curiosity is executed before, during, and after any interaction with a client. Genuine curiosity uncovers insights that enable you to communicate with prospects in ways that are meaningful to them, and that are welcomed, not ignored.

Curiosity also requires a different approach to listening. Gaining the quality of information from your prospects that will enable you to stand out requires you to listen beyond the prospect’s words to hear the meaning and implication behind those words.  When a prospect says, “We're considering switching suppliers,” too often the salesperson is deafened by the rush of “opportunity” and heads straight to their next question, “So what are you looking for in your new supplier?”

They miss that the word “considering” is loaded with implications. Why is this prospect considering a switch? Where are they in the process? What has them considering versus deciding? This depth of curiosity provides you with the full picture and points to how you may contribute relevant value to the real issue.  And, equally important, provides you clarity on the likelihood of this being an actual opportunity.

Always be connecting.

Nobody needs your information. The internet has fast-forwarded us through the information age into the quagmire of overwhelming data. Today’s buyers research potential purchases without supplier involvement. The last thing they need from a salesperson is more information. They can visit your company’s website, Facebook page, LinkedIn page, YouTube channel, and a myriad of other online and offline resources to get what they need. So why are so many sales messages, proposals, emails, and presentations nothing more than a series of information dumps?

Today’s buyer expects you to bring three things to every interaction:

  1. An understanding of their world
  2. Relevant expertise
  3. The ability to connect the two

Simply put, I need you to connect your information to me and my world in ways that contribute to my success, as I define it. Otherwise, good luck getting my attention. And my business.

We assume buyers make the connection between our offerings and their companies’ needs. They don’t. That’s our job. We presume that our promises of saving money, increasing revenue, or driving more leads to their business will have every buyer salivating. They don’t. Your ability to stand out in the fog of information has nothing to do with your features, benefits, expertise, or brand. It has everything to do with how you position these attributes in the context of what’s important to this buyer. Make the shift from pitching to positioning. Position your information in the context of what matters most from your customer’s perspective. Do it by mastering the execution of a new set of selling ABCs:  Always be contributing. Always be curious. Always be connecting.

Every prospecting message, every call, presentation, proposal, and meeting must contribute relevant value.”

Jill Harrington | President, salesSHIFT

Learn More

How to Craft the Perfect Sales Pitch By Annie Simms,
Account Executive, Salesforce
The Simple Client Meeting Rules Every Salesperson Should Follow By Laura Stack,
President and CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.



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