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Memo to VARs: Instead of Selling, Help Your Customers Buy

Memo to VARs: Instead of Selling, Help Your Customers Buy

As salespeople, we often push products and services that we feel are best in class or are the latest and greatest.  In most cases this works very well, but sometimes we don’t completely resolve the customer’s pain points as well as we could have.  Instead of trying to sell, we need to focus on helping our customers buy.  To accomplish this, it’s important to take a few extra steps and deliver the right solutions that help our customers grow their business and be successful.

Here are three secrets to success:

1. Listen

The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  This quote is as true today as it was in the first century, and we salespeople can learn a lot by following his advice.

We love to talk about our products, the speeds and feeds, and how great they are.  In reality, what we need to focus on is listening to our customer’s needs, concerns and challenges.   When we listen first, we will be able to understand what is driving their buying decision.  Customers will tell you what they want, the problems they face, and what it takes to have them buy; we just need to take the time and truly listen.

2. Understand

Even after we have listened to our customers, to be effective in sales we need to fully understand.  Sometimes we offer customers solutions before we even understand what the problem actually is. We make far too many assumptions based on our knowledge and experience of our offerings instead of realizing that every customer and situation is unique.  You know what they say about assuming…

One word that has helped me during my tenure with a leading technology company is why.  Customers are great at telling you what their needs and pains are, but sometimes they aren’t aware of the root cause of their issues.  It is our job as experts to be able to see the big picture, read between the lines and educate customers on why they are in need and why they are feeling their pains.  If we can understand whys behind any purchasing decision, we can effectively and properly address our customer’s needs.

3. Solve the Problem

The key to any successful sales organization is the ability to meet customer needs and create relationships with clients that keep them coming back to you as their expert in what it is you do or sell.  Only after we have listened, have taken the time to understand the why of the issue, will we be able to solve the problem.

Many times we find that the final solution was dramatically different than what we had originally expected.  By tailoring our products and services around customer needs and pain points, we effectively become solution providers instead of pushy salespeople.  Once we solve the customer’s problem, we are generally able to make a sale.

In my humble opinion, following these basic principles will pay dividends and drive growth even in these tough economic times.  Once we stop selling our products and services, and shift our attention to helping customers buy products and services that solve their business challenges, we will become the trusted advisors that they are looking for and gain loyal customers every salesperson hopes to have.

John Vuong is a sales coach at Dell Inc. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual sponsorship. Read all of Dell's monthly contributions here.

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