August 19, 2014
September is nearly upon us and, like it or not, the summer malaise is coming to an end sooner than most people would like. This is a crucial time of year for most businesses and ripe with opportunity. It is a time when business owners and managers need to close out strong and take advantage of any money still on the table but with an eye toward 2015.
The main area that should be evaluated is your sales strategy and the patterns and behavior of your sales professionals. And the main question you need to ask is, “Are they transactional focused or value focused?” And if you are finding your sales staff to be more reactive than proactive and not taking the time to understand their customers better, it's time to make hard choices and changes.
The days of sitting around and waiting for IOs (insertion orders) to come in are gone. Today’s customers are more sophisticated than ever before and are closely watching every dime spent. They also have more sophisticated ROI metrics so they know exactly how their investments are paying off.
As a result, the days of the transaction-based seller are over. Today’s sales professionals must earn their customers’ business and to do that they must think “value.” This is sometimes easier said than done, as it requires a retooling or rewiring of how sales approaches their customers.
A holistic view of the customer is needed and sales professionals must be willing to learn their business better and be a partner and not just a supplier. Taking a value-added sales approach requires digging deeper into the needs of your customers and understanding their market and where they fit in. It also requires a longer-term approach to the sales cycle but in the end, a more comprehensive program that is deeper rooted and aligned with the customer’s needs.
Keep in mind that compensation or commission structures sometimes need to change to make this effective.
This type of approach results in longer, more profitable business. It results in more loyal customers. However, it also results in more accountability, deeper relationships, more hand-holding and greater expectations.
Taking a value-add approach requires sales to spend more time listening to the customer’s overall needs and objectives and then build a comprehensive solution that meets those needs. It’s not about selling specific products to make monthly or quarterly quotas. It’s about building long-lasting customer relationships and leading with a value proposition and not a transactional sale.
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