Sound familiar ?

“As a result of an internal business review we’ve built a detailed specification of our requirements for [insert descriptive] that we feel your organisation may be able to satisfy. We’d like you to complete the attached RFP by [insert unreasonable time-frame]  and if considered suitable, to attend our offices on [insert non-negotiable date] and make a presentation about why you should be considered as a potential supplier”.

…and the unspoken bit hidden between the lines, “ We’ve also managed to come up with a list of your competitors and have asked them to do the same. Of course, one of your competitors is the incumbent and as such is very likely to retain the business”.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this type of conversation is becoming more and more common as buyers of B2B goods and services increasingly access publicly available information and use it to work out their own needs. Some studies suggest that they are completing as much as 60% of purchasing decisions before even engaging a supplier or speaking with a salesperson.

Of course, the RFP is an extreme of how the “informed” buyer is handling the procurement task. Not every solution is acquired through an RFP. Maybe it’s a scenario where the prospect says things like “I’ve been on the internet”, “I know how much it should cost”, “I’m familiar with the technical specs” or countless other examples. One things for sure, it’s a fact that every prospect can tap into information that just wasn’t accessible a few years ago and that changes the game.

So how do you adapt your sales approach to ensure that you are seen as an invaluable part of the buying process and be the one that secures the customers’ business?

An approach to this conundrum has been developed by Global Sales Training and Results Improvement Specialists, Mercuri International, and is centred on Differentiated Selling™ or put another way, the ability to flex your sales approach to the way people buy.

As the information age continues to gather pace, there are a number of your customers who having researched everything, feel that they know clearly what they want and are very comfortable to continue to trust you to provide it. In these situations the salesperson is fulfilling a known set of requirements in a “safe” relationship and only has to provide the solution. Typically, this type of selling situation would be managed by an Account Manager. That is, a salesperson who is focussed totally on the quality of the relationship between your company and the client.

But what happens when the prospect is not clear about their requirements and whether they want to work with your company at all? How do you approach this type of prospect?

Or the prospect who knows what he wants (or thinks he knows) but is not happy or convinced about working with you?

Differentiated Selling™ is essentially an approach that flexes dependant on the buying situation of the prospect. It requires you to think and act differently in different situations rather than have a “one size fits all” sales approach.

Are you ready to start being different? If you are, it could be useful to have a discussion with us first. We have some provocative insights into how you can turn your customer’s way of thinking on its head.

Interested in hearing more? Contact me by clicking here to arrange an introductory discussion and discover how to win that elusive customers business a little more often.


Who are they ?

Like most methods of communication, blogs are all about content. The content of this blog is normally fairly informal covering general topics that have sparked my interest or that have come up in everyday conversations with business colleagues, friends and peers.

In this post I’m not going to do the talking. I thought that maybe it’s about time that my  posts have a bit of context to them. So it would be good to share a little about the company I work for and what it is that we do for our clients.

If you are in the business of selling and/or leading people that sell then it’s likely that this video might strike a chord. If so, please take the time to contact me or call me on + 44 (0) 7515 394373 – we probably should be talking.

How was it for you?

In my previous post I talked about Referrals and Social Media. I made a comment about how a great customer service experience can quickly spread across the network you’re connected to. I also mentioned how poor customer service can do the same thing.

Of course the downside of this is that if you do a bad job then the world will find out quicker than ever before. It’s a great incentive for organisations to focus on delivering great customer service”.

Social Media is an incredible tool for getting the message out about your customer service levels. Imagine what would happen to your business if every customer had a great experience and told all their network about it through Facebook, Twitter or Linked in.

So now you need to review how good your customer service really is. This is a really big topic but it starts with listening to what your customers and prospects really expect of your organisation.

You can even conduct this research through Social Media by using the questions feature of Facebook, the Polls feature of Linked in and other tools like Survey Monkey or PollDaddy.

Once you’ve got your research results you’ll then need to conduct an honest analysis of how often you meet those requirements.

In the process, you’ll likely find some areas where you’re over-servicing the customer by providing things they don’t value and you’ll also find some areas that are “nice to have” for your customer but are not economic or viable for you to offer.

Once all this is complete (and you need to take it seriously) you have a roadmap of what you need to do to deliver great customer service to your existing and potential customers.

So how do you get people to let others know when they had a great experience? Simple, you just ask them. It doesn’t matter if your business interactions are face to face or virtual. You still have to ask each and every visitor to your company to tell others about how great you are.

It’s so easy to kit out your website and blog with Facebook, Linked in and Twitter widgets to help people share your content, products and services or just the great experience they had.

Of course, if you interact face to face, you can still help people share the great stuff you do by printing your Facebook, Linked in or Twitter URL’s on your business cards and other literature. (Choose those that work for your business).

How you go about changing the customer service culture of your business is a topic all of its own, but one that is worthy of talking about in another post.

Oh, and please don’t see negative feedback as a bad thing, it’s your chance to put things right and have a real dialogue with your customers.

Please leave your comments, thoughts and experiences of good and bad customer service. or just share how you purchased something on the back of good online recommendations.