Sales professionals need more than just a range of skills. They need to know how and when to use each of those skills. They need to be able to shift from one capability to another, sometimes in the span of a single conversation.
Research from Richardson Sales Training revealed that agility is a critical factor in a sales professional’s ability to overcome common selling challenges in 2019. Here are three ways agility can drive success throughout the selling process, from value creation to negotiations to ongoing account management.
A More Effective Value Creation Process
True value creation starts with delivering insights to the customer. However, doing so is difficult, because these insights must resonate with the customer’s goals, which constantly change. Therefore, value creation requires that sales professionals be agile in tracking these changes. They must observe and understand how the numerous stakeholders involved in the buying decision are pushing and pulling the process in various directions.
Successful sales professionals triangulate the customer’s key challenge by engaging all the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process. They understand how each person perceives the business challenge and defines the problem. With this information, sales professionals can create insights that relate to the specifics of the challenge. They can connect the nuanced value of their solution to the details of the buyer’s business’ needs. Agility is the key to this process, because many stakeholders work under misconceptions. A complex problem can confuse the decision-maker’s understanding of what he or she needs. Effective sales professionals navigate this arena by adopting an agile approach to revealing and refining customer perceptions.
Negotiations that Maintain Momentum
Negotiations are one of the most unpredictable phases of selling. Sales professionals face numerous stakeholders with individual needs. With so many customers involved in a single buying decision, it’s not surprising that many sales professionals find it challenging to work with customers who reopen the negotiation process. This stop/start process demands a fluid approach in which sales professionals advance the process by converting demands to needs.
A demand is inflexible, whereas a need can be served in a variety of ways. Engaging the customer’s demands without exploring the underlying need will often lead to concessions. Converting demands to needs requires careful questioning. In the heat of a negotiation, it’s easy to jump ahead and agree to a demand in an effort to push the sale forward. However, doing so only reduces the scale of the sale. Sales professionals must have the agility to effectively trade; they must “give to get.” They must know the value of what they’re offering so that the exchange is equitable.
A Balanced Approach to Account Management
Sales professionals are eager to grow existing relationships and expand selling opportunities. However, as competition escalates, it’s becoming more difficult to find ways to grow into the customer’s white space. For this reason, sales professionals must become trusted advisors. They need to develop a more detailed sense of the customer’s ongoing challenges and needs and access the hidden dialogues within the customer’s business.
These hidden dialogues are the internal discussions that often unfold without the sales professional present. These conversations are important, because they reveal which stakeholders are in support of the solution and which are dissenting voices. Finding a way into these conversations requires agility. Sales professionals must leverage what they already know about the customer’s business to offer insights that are strong enough to earn them a place at the table. Once a sales professional is included in the internal dialogue, he or she can find the overlap between the customer’s strategic initiative and the solution capabilities.
The Bottom Line
It’s no longer enough to possess numerous selling skills. In 2019 and beyond, effective sales professionals will need the agility to leverage each of their skills in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. Agility will advance the sale in three key ways: by tracking different perspectives to build value creation that resonates, by converting demands to needs in the negotiation process and by growing into the customer’s white space by accessing the hidden dialogues.