Important elements of sales preparation: Part I

Important elements of sales preparation: Part I - Artificial Jewellery

The mindset of the average customer has significantly changed in the past two decades. RYAN ESTIS encourages salespeople to view this as an opportunity, not a challenge.

Did you know that most sales are closed before the final interaction between sales staff and the customer begins?

When business-to-business (B2B) buyers are considering a purchase, on average they only spend 17 per cent of their time talking to potential suppliers.

The same study from Gartner, a US-based firm, revealed that sales staff have roughly five per cent of a customer’s time and attention during the process of a purchase.It’s a similar story for business-to-consumer (B2C) sales staff – particularly in an online environment. According to research from Microsoft, consumer attention has dropped to an eight-second average! So, what does this mean for sellers? Sales preparation is more important than ever.

Customers already have a clear view of your products, services and benefits — as well as those of your competitor — because of online research they’ve already done. Customers don’t want to spend time discussing “what keeps them up at night.” They are well down the path of solving their ‘problems’ before you meet them.

In this new era of selling, customers are self-servers. Sales staff have no choice but to radically change their tactics. As a salesperson, you need to meet customers where they are — which is much deeper into the decision cycle.

Targeted research

The more you know about your customers the better prepared you’ll be when crafting your sales presentation. Fortunately, today’s salespeople have more information at their disposal than ever before.

Modern sales and marketing organisations can understand a potential buyer’s intent based on their online activities.

Understanding and applying intent data can focus your efforts by pinpointing the most likely buyers at the right moment.

According to a report by TrustRadius, a US business research and review platform, only 40 per cent of businesses work with, what’s known as an, ‘intent data provider’.

By understanding how intent data works and how it applies to your sales cycle, you can see where potential buyers are in their journey, what services and products your prospects are viewing — and whether those products belong to your business or that of a competitor.

Intent data is one of many ways to research your target customer. Whatever your approach, make sure your staff understands the data and can access it.

Answer these questions to be better prepared:

• Where are potential and current customers spending most of their time?
• What social channels are they creating or consuming content? LinkedIn? YouTube? Are they engaging in industry forums?

If you know where they are, you can understand what content they’re consuming and whether they’re getting close to a purchasing decision.

Find the right tone

If you’re communicating with a potential customer in an online setting, take note of the tone of their engagement, particularly on social media.

Some businesses encourage formal communication from every employee at all times and on all platforms.

If you don’t see any personal updates or casual banter on the social media of your potential customer, take that as a good sign that your tone should be formal and professional when communicating with them.

Study their content and look for information revealing how they position themselves. You can learn a surprising amount of helpful information about a potential customer’s goals from a small amount of research. Look at your existing data for help answering this question. What buyer personas are you operating with? What can your website analytics or customer relationship management system tell you?

Purchasing decisions

Who is making the purchasing decisions? There’s no point in creating a great sales offer only to discover it isn’t the right person for it.

In 2022, there are an average of seven stakeholders involved in any significant B2B buying decision. In a B2C environment, attempting to sell to the wrong product to someone is a mistake that’s easier to avoid – but still happens far too often!

Overcoming challenges

Problems are some of your best opportunities for building relationships, especially when you can help prospective customers solve those problems. The best salespeople are problem-solvers.

Helping your potential customer discover a solution to a challenge is the best way to secure their trust.

In the second part of this series, I’ll discuss several other strategies you can adopt to complement the selling focuses outlined in this edition.


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