Sales is a tough business.
If you don’t close, you don’t get paid.
These stark consequences have caused many salesmen and women to rush a lead to the closing table and ultimately lose the lead for good. The problem here is a sales process that is built to meet the needs of the salesman, not the prospect.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be selling that rare product or service that prospects are climbing over each other to purchase, you’ve got to put the lead first.
One of the best ways to do that is to focus on how you can help the lead solve problems. How? Glad you asked.
Know your lead beyond what’s on the sales sheet
We can pretty much guarantee that sales sheet you were given is woefully inadequate. A phone number and first name are great, but you need to know what the lead struggles with on a daily basis. What is she trying to get done today, why is that hard to do, what does her boss want from her… This is the kind of powerful insight that marketing should be able to provide when you ask.
Make the lead’s problem your problem
If you want one gem from this whole piece, this is it: Help your lead. Hopefully your product or service is the ultimate answer for their problems. (If not, find out why marketing is giving you leads that don’t need your product and put an end to that sooner rather than later.) At each stage of the sales funnel, your lead has different problems, needs, questions. And the answer is very rarely “hurry up and buy.”
Keeping your eyes locked on this value adding mentality (hello, sales enablement) where you find ways to help your lead at each step of the sales process keeps you top of mind and builds the strong relationships so crucial in sales.
Stock images of salesmen are bad. Here's a picture of a boat instead.
Just look at that water. Beautiful.
Share the road
No one likes to be sold to, but people love to buy. Don’t push the lead, guide them. Helping them make decisions works so well because you can steer from the back, meaning the lead can still be in control (or at least feel like it) while you guide the process.
How Can I Help?
Ask away. Start by asking the above question and really listening. You can't be helpful if you don't ask the right questions. If you don't know something about their business, ask until you do know.
Study up. When a lead needs help, provide substantial, data-backed answers rather than just opinions. That applies to your product or service and to the prospect's field. The more you know, the more you can help.
Be real. If your compititor is good at something, admit it. You know your industry inside and out. That means you can probably rattle off a list of pros and cons of each option the prospect is consdiering with ease. Not only is this really helpful to a prospect, but it's also a powerful way to prove you're trustworthy.
Your leads have an entire internet full of options and information. That's a lot of power. If you want to be needed, you need to do more than sell – you need to help. Find a way to do that and you're far more likely to find yourself at the negotating table.