06 Apr The New Paradigm for Sales Success: Connection and Relevance – Part I
Information is no longer king in the world of sales. That’s what the Internet is for. So what’s a salesperson to do in order to stand out in a crowded, competitive market? Remarkably, the solution for such a complex issue is quite simple: authentic connection + sustainable relevance. OR, it’s your connection to clients, silly!
In this new age of information overload, client attention is still awakened by two distinctive qualities in salespeople:
- The sense of an authentic connection: Does he understand me? Can I relate to him? Is he trustworthy?
- The appreciation of relevant discussions and presentations: Does she understand what I’m trying to say… maybe even better than I do? Is what she’s presenting credible, and relevant to me?
Crack these two codes, and your chance of developing strong, differentiated relationships goes up exponentially!
This week, we’ll cover Part I of the New Paradigm for Sales Success: Authentic Connection. Come back next week for Part II: Relevant Discussions and Presentations.
Creating Authentic Connections
In the process of “being productive” (an admirable quality), most professionals find relief in the moments when they’re reminded about also “being human” (a fundamental quality). Sure, we come to work in order to pay bills and send kids to college. But we also come to work because we like what we do, believe we make a difference, grow as people, and build relationships with others.
A sales relationship is a tremendous opportunity to not only help solve problems that advance the work of clients, but to do so in ways that enhance each person’s sense of being seen as people. Any sales rep can do the first; the stand-out professionals do the second as well… and they do it well. Try these skills for creating authentic connections:
1Ask question from curiosity, not just from your sales agenda: Follow your inklings. Too often professionals skirt issues that a client raises for fear of being seen as nosey. But if a client originates the topic, and you believe that their best interests hinge on your knowing more about that topic, then follow up.
Tip: When asking questions that might appear risky, ask your question by referencing the client’s own words, and by spelling out a benefit to them for answering you. This will help make your questions – even sensitive ones – more acceptable and more likely to elicit the information you want.
2Play back what you heard, what was inferred, and what is an extension of your own experience: Demonstrating a deep understanding of a client’s situation enhances your credibility. It’s also a gift. Your knowledge of a client’s situation – pulled from your own depth of experience, having worked with others in similar situations – is an asset. Reflect to clients not only what they can already see of their problem, but also what they can’t see and don’t know. This insight helps a client to see you as the right partner for them. In a competitive environment, products are often seen as too similar to influence how clients decide. What will differentiate you is your ability to help clients see their own problems in new, insightful ways.
Tip 1: Listen on three levels: what the client says, what the client infers, and what occurs to you based on your own experience with other, similar clients in similar situations. Playback to the client the amalgam of these three in order to paint a more refined, comprehensive picture for them of their own situation. Be sure to verify your understanding so that they don’t feel manipulated, and so that they can truly absorb your nuanced contribution to the discussion.
Tip 2: Notice that all of this occurs before you even talk about your solutions. This is when clients – especially clients buying services – actually decide whom they’ll work with: the person who helps define the scope of the problem, not just the solution, wins!
The Rewards of Authentic Connection
A moment of genuine connection in a sales relationship is both practical and magical:
- The sales rep becomes the memorable standout among competitors: This is a bi-product of having triggered an emotion-infused response with a client. Our memories are linked to our emotions; stronger emotional, visceral responses translate into stronger memories of the occasion and the person.
- Clients are more forthcoming with information; When clients can relax and trust the intentions and actions of their salesperson, they are more inclined to reveal the often-hidden emotional influences of their decision-making. A client’s trust in others is significantly increased by their perception that the salesperson cares.
- Clients listen with more generosity; Having experienced an empathetic exchange with their sales rep, clients tend to give the rep the “benefit of the doubt,” meaning they’ll ask their questions less combatively, and allow for hiccups in the presentation and the service delivery (provided, of course, there’s not a lapse in professionalism, nor a pattern of sloppy service!).
Join us next week for Part II of The New Paradigm for Sales Success: Relevant Discussions and Presentations.