Selling is no easy task, the rise in online retail, services and in turn competition has left consumers overwhelmed and businesses with a simple choice – innovate or fail. And still, in a world where the latest trends dictate our approach to almost everything – finances, management, even our own recreation, something remains; the need to connect with people.
It is this element of the human nature that is often overlooked. It’s all too easy to rely on technology, no matter what your business objective, and yet – whilst the power of tech cannot and should not be underestimated – it also shouldn’t distract from good business practice, not least when it comes to sales.
People connect with people, and in turn, we can understand the maintained importance of understanding human nature and behaviour when it comes to selling. In a world where we’re constantly being fed the corporate line, the strap and the key message of any given product, the core principles of SPIN® selling have never been so relevant.
Let’s consider this in practice, SPIN® Selling teaches us five key techniques. Cut to the chase, in short don’t waste valuable time, skip on using unnecessary jargon, be descriptive, ask questions and make your product or service matter.
Cut to the chase
A good sales person doesn’t waste time with filler word. They start talking about the product right away.
For example, a website developer calls your company and starts by saying, “I am glad I finally got hold of you. It took me more than 10 minutes to find your contact information on your website. My company does web development, and we could help you quickly fix that. Your customers would then be less frustrated and more easily able to contact you. Can I go over the site with you and find out what else you might like it to be able to do?”
As the person being pitched, I am now fully engaged in the web developer’s product – because they showed me they did their homework, and can solve a problem I did not know I had.
Skip the jargon
Whether your product is technical in nature or you just tend to be on the know-it-all side of the spectrum, find a simple way to explain your product that anyone can follow. There is no use perfecting your elevator pitch if a normal person can’t understand half of the words in it.
Customers don’t want to need an explanation – they want to understand right away. Always try to explain things in layman terms, keep it simple when explaining the benefits and why it can help the customer. It will help them visualise it in their own lives.
Paint a picture
You will not always have the luxury of meeting with your customer face to face. Learn how to describe your product in a way that even someone who has never seen it can imagine what it is. Find creative analogies that can help the customer imagine what the product will look like before they have seen it.
This will get them invested in your product from the get go and when they do see a picture of the product it can either be exactly what they imagined or pleasantly surprising.
If you’re selling a service this is obviously more difficult, for this you can paint a picture of an easier life for the customer. Explain that all the unnecessary time they spend doing a menial task can be solved with your product, which can then mean they can spend more of their time on securing new business or help their own clients. Sell them the solution rather than the serviced.
When you speak to a customer, concentrate on finding out about the customer instead of making your pitch. One of the backbones of SPIN® Selling is asking open-ended questions, and the carefully listening to the answers, this will always get you further than delivering a monologue.
Asking prospects what they don’t like about their current service and highlighting why you can fix that will ensure you’re astute enough to carefully connect their discontent with their current service.
Make it matter
Your product may have a tonne of benefits, but they are worthless if the customer you sell to doesn’t need them. Be able to constantly reframe those product benefits so that the customer with whom you are speaking understands the direct impact the product could have on their world. Don’t presume that price is the biggest factor. In fact, it could be an ease of access and great retained customer service. Assess what they need and fit your pitch to that.
A good way to think of selling is like a journey on which you are leading your customer. If the customer doesn’t understand where you are headed and why they should come along, they will either choose not to take the trip or wander off in a different direction midway through. All you have to do is get them excited about the destination, tell them all the beautiful things they will see along the way, and answer any questions they have so they feel safe and can enjoy the route.
In a world where tech takes priority and a focus on trends often overshadow what we’re truly looking to achieve, ensure you remain human in the way you conduct business. Think about what you want from your supplier – yes, you want great products or services, but you also want a safe pair of hands, somebody you can rely on and trust and most of all a human that boasts knowledge expertise and a solution to your problem.
David Freedman is director at Huthwaite International