In today’s volatile markets, one of the key sales challenges is to stay focused on adding value and leading with relationship selling. This is not new news to those of us who work in sales. In fact, most organizations and advisors have been working long term to be more customer-focused. The challenge is for advisors to be productive and assertive without coming across to customers as sales-driven.
Assertive (not aggressive) salespeople win more business than others. These people care so much about doing the right thing for their clients that they are willing to risk the relationship and the sale to ensure the prospect or customer makes good decisions. Does this describe you? This is the essence of relationship selling.
What does assertiveness have to do with relationship selling? In a word, EVERYTHING. If done properly, the early conversations and meetings will help to qualify or eliminate a suspect. This will save time for those prospects who are really not prospects as well as streamline your efforts and pipeline, giving you more time and energy to focus on finding more and better prospects for whom you can solve problems. One of the biggest sales challenges of many salespeople is spending time on unqualified prospects who will never buy.
In initial ‘assertive’ conversations, you must be gathering information that leads to full understanding of what pain or problems your prospect has to solve, what they have done to address those, what their current provider has done to help. It is only through the intelligence that is gained and utilized in these conversations that will lead to long term mutually beneficial relationships.
In this discover process, the skill of asking the right questions, the right way at the right time is critical. In our selling system, for a prospect to qualify they must:
- Have compelling reasons to buy, to make a change, to do something different,
- Have the capability and willingness to invest the necessary time, money and effort,
- Be willing and able to make the decision to fix the problem AND
be able and willing to make the money decision.
There are lots of questions that need to be asked to find out if the prospect qualifies in these three areas. Some of these questions require a salesperson to be assertive. Questions such as:
- “How will you go about telling your current broker / banker / relationship that you are no longer going to do business with them?”
- “If you don’t have the money, how will you solve the problem?”
- “The budget you have won’t be enough to get you the outcome you want. What part of the solution do you want to eliminate?”
- “What will you tell your partner when they say they don’t want to make the change?”
Imagine if you were gutsy enough to have these types of conversations. What would happen? You might fear that you would lose more business. But suppose that wasn’t the case. Suppose by being more assertive, you are actually helping the prospect by discovering what is in the way of them reaching their objectives. Suppose this led to the elimination of think-it-overs and actually helped people to make decisions. Imagine that you stopped making presentations to people who could only say “no” and never had the authority or intention of saying “yes.” What would happen?
You would sell more and build stronger relationships. Now go overcome your biggest sales challenges!