This is the fourth in a series for e-learning for Advanced Sales Training for IT and High-Tech Sales.
Sales Strategy – Crafting a Winning Sales Strategy at Each Stage of the Buying Cycle
In the dynamic world of IT and high-tech sales, success hinges on a well-defined and adaptable sales strategy that aligns with the buyer's journey. The modern buyer's path is no longer a linear process, but rather a series of stages involving changes over time and the recognition of evolving needs. In this article, we will explore the essential steps in the buying cycle and discuss what a salesperson should be doing at each stage to drive results and establish lasting customer relationships.
Stage 1. Changes Over Time and Recognition of Needs
The IT and high-tech landscape and the business environment are in a perpetual state of flux. New technologies emerge, and the needs of businesses evolve rapidly. To succeed, salespeople must stay attuned to these changes. At this stage, the salesperson's role is to:
a. Continuous Learning: Stay updated on industry trends and emerging technologies. Keep informed, research your customers industry, competitors, and business direction, read the trade journals, listen to your clients for clues. keep close to and develop your network. Be a subject matter expert to understand, predict and influence client needs.
b. Active Listening: Engage in meaningful conversations with prospects to uncover their unique challenges and pain points.
c. Solution Matchmaking: Start to think in terms of your solutions and tailoring your offerings to address the evolving needs and challenges of your clients.
Stage 2. Buyer Sets Objectives and Criteria
Your customer (with your help!) has recognised there is a situation (change / issue / problem / opportunity that needs to be addressed. Your client will now set objectives and decision criteria for any solution, and to be used as the basis for inviting alternative suppliers to bid – a requirement of due diligence! Salespeople should collaborate closely with the client to:
a. Understand the decision process, who is involved and how the decision will be made. You also need to know the decision criteria for everyone involved in the process and these may not be formally listed or acknowledged.
b. Influence the decision criteria in your favour: Stay close to your customer. Use and extend your existing network and information gathering capabilities, introduce criteria that match your solution and strengths and influence those where you are weaker.
c. Customization: Start to think in terms of tailoring your proposal to meet the specific criteria and objectives set by the buyer.
Stage 3. Evaluation of Options
The IT and high-tech sales market is saturated with options. Your customer is now at the stage of comparing alternatives and deciding which option to proceed with – yours, your competitors, alternative approaches, or do nothing - which makes it imperative for salespeople to:
a. Decision Team: Ensure that everyone in the decision team has the information they need to support your proposals - Remember different people may have different priorities and different criteria.
b. Build Trust: Establish a trusting relationship by demonstrating your commitment to solving the client's problems. Use the letter system to confirm the need for action, the type of solution and the selection criteria, all agreed in writing following client meetings – continue to influence selection criteria in your favour.
c. Presentations, Demonstrations, Proposals: Focus on the selection criteria i.e., Demonstrations, Presentations, Proposals must sell BENEFITS and confirm your ability to meet the Basis of Decision (BOD) i.e., the clients agreed selection criteria.
Stage 4. Resolution of Concerns
During the evaluation stage, buyers will often have concerns or objections to your solution. Salespeople should be prepared to:
a. Concerns and Objection Handling: Look for signs of concerns arising. Don’t ignore them, uncover, address, and resolve concerns transparently and effectively.
b. Break decisions and / or issues down into smaller (less risky) steps. Offer alternative solutions.
c. Case Studies and References: Share success stories and references to alleviate concerns and showcase your track record.
Stage 5. Customer Makes a Decision
It is most probable that you will not be present when the final decision is made. By this stage your meetings, letters, presentations & proposals should have established the need, set and confirmed selection criteria, shown how you meet them, and addressed concerns – you can do no more.
At this crucial juncture, the prospect decides to move forward. The customer has made the decision and chosen you.
a. Negotiation Skills: There may be a last-minute attempt to negotiate / get concessions – hold firm.
b. The Contract: The contract has to be signed (by both parties!), product and services delivered, and the money be in the bank – keep your eye on the ball, many a deal has been lost at this stage.
Stage 6. Implementation
The deal is closed, but the journey is far from over. The salesperson's responsibility extends to ensuring a seamless implementation process:
a. Post-Sale Support: Continue to provide assistance, guidance, and support during the implementation phase. Should a problem occur – take ownership, react quickly, communicate with the customer, address the issue, and resolve it.
b. Customer Training: Offer training and resources to help clients maximize the value of the purchased solution.
c. Relationship Building: Foster a long-term relationship with the client to encourage repeat business and referrals. As the solution is implemented focus on developing your network and look for new opportunities based on the changing environment.
Understanding and adapting to the buyer's journey is paramount. Recognizing that needs change over time and crafting a customer centric sales strategy that aligns with each stage of the buying cycle is essential for success. Sales professionals who invest in continuous learning, active listening, and focus on customer needs will not only close deals but also build lasting relationships with satisfied customers.
Questions? Does your sales training take in to account the dynamics of the buying cycle and what you should be doing? For more information about e-learning for Advanced Sales Training visit https://3rcreative.ispringmarket.eu/