The Top Five Sales’ Challenges for 2016

If you search on the Internet for the top sales’ challenges in the coming year, then you’ll get a list as long as your arm. While there is some agreement, there are also considerable differences.

Here are the top five that we think you ought to pay attention to the most. You ignore these at your peril.

 

1. Learn to compete on value; not price

Some sales people talk about how hard it is to get higher prices for their products or services. Others feel that they are being pressured by lower-cost providers. These things are two sides of the same coin. They are both about the price the customer has to pay you.

The fact is that the internet has made it possible to compare prices on almost everything. Even if they aren’t shown on the companies’ websites, a quick email can solve that. And so your prospects can get a feel for what the best solution for them is at a price that they can afford even before you walk in the door.

They can also contact their counterparts through email or forums to find out what the going rate is. That means that they can know most of what it is you have to offer and how much you expect to charge for it in advance.

Maybe you have encountered customers who continually reopen negotiations and demand more concessions. The way that you handle them is to take more value off the table as the price goes down. If you fail to do this, then eventually your profit will dwindle away to nothing. You have to be willing to walk away from the deal. If you cave in, then you’ll never see the bottom and you may still not make the sale.

 

2. Offer prospects real value that’s beyond what your competitors can deliver.

There’s a song. It’s something your parents will remember. The lyrics go like this: “Anything you can do, I can do better”. That has to be your mantra. And you have to do it by a factor of ten; not two or three. There has to be clear daylight between you and your competitors to the extent that it’s a no-brainer, as they say in the States, to use you.

To look at this another way, you need to be so good that you look like the only sales person who sells boats that float. Everyone else’s sink in the harbour by comparison. Anything less than that and it will be seen to be too much hassle to switch from the incumbent to you.

This is because your buyers have raised the bar. It means that you as the seller have to raise it even further to in order to stay in the running. You have to provide even more value than you did last year.

You also have to get out of the seller mindset and learn how to connect with your prospects'. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not a number’s game. If that’s what you think, then you’re living in the SQSA: the Status Quo Stone Age. Your focus must be on relationships. That’s the way buyers want to buy. If you don’t learn that, then they will buy from someone who has. This has happened already online.

 

3. Qualify prospects

Many sales people rank this as of much less concern than other things, and yet it may lie at the root of their sales’ woes. That’s because rather than taking the time to do the research, they rely on personal guesses. The fact that so many salespeople fail to offer what buyers want should be a clue that this assumption is wrong.

It’s essential that you find out what the facts are because if you don’t know for sure what your prospects need, then you can’t differentiate yourself from your competitors; and that means that you can’t demonstrate that you provide more value, and you can’t show what your value is. Instead, you look like everyone else. And that being the case, no one is going to take time for an appointment with you so that they can watch a “TV Repeat.”

If instead of pitching to a lot of people in the hope of winning a few, you should identify those who are most likely to buy from you first. Then you will increase your chances of making the sale and have to go on fewer appointments to do it. In other words, if you do your research and qualify your prospects, then you won’t have to run around like a headless chicken looking for grain.

 

4. Articulate the strategic benefit that you offer

Salespeople aren’t very good at connecting the dots for their prospects. They assume that if they make a good presentation that it will be “obvious”. It rarely is. In any case, the people that you call on haven’t agreed to listen to you so that they can ponder all the possible ways you might be able to help them. That’s your job.

The curious thing is that quite often when sales people are challenged to do this, they struggle. If you can’t show your prospects how they will benefit by buying from you, then you’re wasting your time and theirs trying to get an appointment in the first place.

 

5. Ask the best questions

You have to learn how to ask really good questions, those which are better than your competitors. The more difficult your questions are for your prospects to answer and the better you connect the dots for them, the more likely they’ll buy from you. That’s because they’ll understand that what you offer most closely matches what they need.

That fact that prospects are savvier, however, means that you have to work harder to challenge them because they know so much more than they once did. Not only can they do research on the problem, they can do research on you. Have you ever thought about that?

It really doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with us. The fact remains that the selling scene is constantly changing. More people who offer something exactly like, or close to, what you offer are entering the arena. There’s more noise for prospects to contend with, and their sophistication as buyers is increasing every day. No matter how you look at it, they expect to get more for their money.

If you want to make the sale, then you must compete on value that is at such a high standard that you stand out from everyone else. You can do that by knowing more about what your prospects need and then tailoring your solution so that it perfectly matches that. Then you must present it to them in such a way that they, too, can fully understand that your solution is not only the best on the market, but the best that there is. And you do all of that by asking great questions.

 

Are you up to this challenge?

 

If you want to beat these and other sales challenges more easily, then contact me here

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