Help Buyers Know What They Need

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Until now, sales techniques for the telesales environment have offered different formats to promote the same basic selling systems: seller calls a prospect, seller may or may not try to discover what prospect wants, seller tries to sell prospect, seller tries to close.


The underlying belief has been that products/services get sold when sellers present the prodact well. Or they get sold when sellers create great personal rapport with prospects. Or when the script is exceptional. Whatever the source, it's seller- and product-based.


But we must ask ourselves: Do we want to sell? Or have someone buy? Buyers buy using their own unique buying process that sellers have had no way to understand. Failure to close is not a sales problem, or a closing ratio problem; it is a problem helping buyers decide.


Many customers don't seem to know what they want these days. They don't seem to know how to buy. They can't seem to make a decision. They don't understand the product offering or the vendor's commitment to serving them well. They don't even understand what makes one product different from another.


I'd like to introduce the idea that instead of pitching product and hoping the pitch will initiate or discover a need, telesales agents can help prospects make a decision. Sellers can teach prospects how to align their decision criteria and decide how to buy -- even on the phone.


Let's start with a look at how buyers buy. Whether they have the money for the product, or even if they see one product as better than another, they cannot buy it until or unless they know how to make a decision. Not only that, but any other decision makers involved in the use of the product, or the fallout of what would happen once the product enters the buyer's space, need to be aligned.


There are several reasons a customer doesn't want to buy in relation to the product, the sales vehicle and the buyer's pain level:


1. Customers don't fully understand their needs. They have been living with the status quo so long that they don't have a need.


2. Any new product brings change, and the prospect needs to understand why he should make a change.


3. A new product, and therefore change, is being offered on the phone through a telesales environment. The prospect may already be annoyed that he was interrupted, that the call came as part of a larger telemarketing effort and that the prospect has no knowledge of the company placing the sales call.


Yet the telephone can be a prime business/sales tool to bring in business quickly while using the opportunity to favorably position yourself and your product.


Until now, we've considered the agent's job to be one of selling product. Imagine if the rep not only could close sales but also help a buyer make a buying decision when he didn't know he had a need, or even use the agent to be a brand ambassador for the company.


Everything you read these days talks about positioning the company around the customer and creating seamless customer support throughout a company. Product sales are no longer a company's only value. Here are the jobs the telesales agent can perform on each inbound or outbound call:


· Close the sale in minutes without a script.


· Cut the sales cycle by half.


· Create an environment of trust.


· Create an immediate collaboration between seller and buyer.


· Create/maintain a long-term business relationship.


· Elevate the product/brand.


The agent's job can be seen as more far-reaching once it's realized that it's easier to help a buyer buy than it is to sell a product.


There is actually a decisioning system that telesales agents can use to lead buyers through their decision criteria and help them decide how to buy. Here are points that the agent needs to address:


· What's missing from the prospect's environment, and how did it get that way?


· How can the prospect fix it himself?


· If it can't be fixed, what cultural norms need to be addressed to ensure there won't be chaos or massive change issues if the buyer buys and brings something new into their environment?Once the buyer knows how to address the above points, the agent can pitch the product. This will lead to more closed sales, sooner. The methodology used by agents these days seeks out folks who already recognize a need and are ready to buy. But there are others who need the product but don't know it, and those folks are not discovered by conventional methods. Addressing the buying patterns and decision concerns of prospects will expand the buying pool.


I recently ran a training program for a software company that demanded a call in from buyers to register the software prior to use. It was a registration call only; the customer had no expectation to make a purchase during that inbound call. Yet the vendor had a perfect chance to upsell: Here was a group who already had purchased one of their products and was in a position to buy others if they could recognize a business need.


Since all the folks who called in were small-business owners, they had a similar profile and were hot prospects. But they had to be led to recognize the possibility of using their call as more than a registration incident. The call center agents had to turn the call around.


At the beginning of the call they said:


"Hi. I'm delighted to walk you through the registration process now. While we're doing that, I'd like to ask you some questions to see if you have any uncovered business needs that our product might support. The product is so complex that it might actually offer ways to help you in your business that you weren't even aware of."


Using this opening, callers were happy to take the agent's questions. During the 10 minutes or so of the registration, the callers were led through a group of facilitative questions that taught the buyer how to think about his current work environment, noticing any problems along the way. Buyers often found they were missing several business systems they hadn't noticed were missing, or even possible to fix, that would make their jobs easier if fixed.


By giving your telesales reps tools to help buyers buy, they can expand their market, boost sales and increase their closing ratios. In this environment, selling product is not enough: You need to teach your customers how to buy.


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