This book is for sellers, consultants, service professionals. She will show you how to create a new vision of the sales process and act as a guide and assistant for the buyer, and not just a source of information.
Potential customers have pretty much succeeded in solving their obvious problems thanks to access to an unprecedented amount of information on the Internet. Sellers can no longer deal with these issues. What they have to do now is to help potential customers deal with not-so-obvious problems, the need for which they, in all likelihood, do not even realize.
Customers need sales professionals who can become their guides on a journey called hourglass sales. I will definitely explain what it is, but first let me tell you why such a trip is certainly worth making.
A modern sales specialist must clearly understand and predict problems that the market does not yet know exist. He acquires this skill if he helps his customers think more broadly and knows exactly how they make a purchasing decision. It is important to be guided by a trading methodology or approach that is based on a deeper understanding of the buyer – we talked about this in detail above.
Today, the sales process should mainly focus on cooperation.
The “sales process” is not a new concept. Most of the sales specialists at some stage of their career either undergo training, or independently comprehend the system, which becomes their actual method, or a technique that leads a potential client from a product request to a deal.
In fact, the sales process is more than just a standard set of steps the seller takes when working with a customer.
The most common approach to organizing sales looks something like this: the client shows interest, the seller identifies the main need of the client, describes a possible solution, offers a purchase, deals with the terms of the transaction, works with objections and then proceeds to closing – the stage of concluding the transaction.
Some companies take a more adaptive approach that focuses directly on understanding the buying process and managing it; it analyzes how the purchase decision is made, what selection criteria are used, how the benefits are calculated and, most important, how the money is allocated for the purchase.
An alternative to any of these principles is to be a company or an individual seller who begins by identifying a problem. Instead of fighting in the battle for “why choose us?”, It’s better to win the fight for “why do you need to choose something else?”
As we noted in Part I, increasing value is your primary concern. To a large extent, the ability to increase your value depends on the ability to determine what is of value in the eyes of each client with whom you work. In other words, you should personalize the value proposition of your company when communicating with potential and real customers.
What I am describing now is a fairly radical change in the context of the sales process.
Hourglass sales completely redefine the essence of the sales process. This is not just escorting the client from the first contact to the conclusion of the transaction – this new look implies involving potential and real customers on a journey that they are not even aware of. This does not mean that we will offer them to go to another place or buy something that is absolutely not suitable for them. Just the opposite. We will make sure that they arrive exactly at the place that they need most. Our task is to approach work as traveling with a customer, and not just managing it or, even worse, following it wherever it wishes.
This is probably the right moment to emphasize once again the critical importance of building credibility and reputation. To a large extent, the efforts made at this stage increase your status to the level at which you get permission to conduct conversations that allow you to learn as much as possible about your potential customers, at the moment when you are ready to start working with them.
Make the problem explicit
In a study report by suppliers and sellers, Forrester Research reported that 65 percent of those who shape their early-stage customer vision complete the deal. In other words, if you are able to help a client discover a problem and take part in determining the criteria that contribute to solving this problem, you will have a great chance to become the only one who can develop an ideal solution.