There is extreme value when a company’s sales representative takes an active interest in helping customers solve a problem. I recently read that a Forrester Research study found that if the vendor is perceived as a trusted adviser, they will win the business 69% of the time.
When you take this data and apply it to a small business, where the owner may be the sales person or sales manager, you can see how vital each and every sale is to the company. Going in the opposite direction, Forrester Research also found that only 7% of decision makers think that the sales reps who call on them bring any kind of value at all. From my own experience this number may fluctuate significantly. When it comes to sales reps in an small business setting, sometimes the only thing you can count on is their ability to count their commissions.
Here’s a suggestion to avoid this problem. I have practiced solution selling for all of my years in business and it certainly has paid me dividends, not only in dollars, but in business building as well. When you practice solution selling you are also building trust with a customer. As the Forrester study pointed out, it gives you an edge on the competition. An edge is especially vital if you work in a small business and you want to win a sales contract at every opportunity.
I publish two unique newsletters on direct and multi-channel marketing for companies who are in the lettershop, direct mail, or print industry. Each customer purchases a certain quantity that I personalize with their company information. My goal is to make sure each newsletter looks like it’s their production and not something just purchased and mailed or emailed.
Each newsletter is packed with information on how their customers can do a better job in their daily business activities. My newsletter goes along the same line as a sales rep being a trusted advisor. I want the newsletter to be a valuable sales tool for my customers. For example, during an interview with a customer or prospect, a sales person may hear of a specific incident that recently occurred with a campaign or project. There is likely an article in a recent newsletter or in one of the special reports offered in every newsletter can address this incident. If there is, it’s great touch point during the sales process. If not, the sales person can obtain an article from my vast library, and present it at their next meeting which he or she has just secured.
I always carry information so I can share it in a face-to-face situation. It’s either on paper, in my laptop, or I can get a copy off of the web. When my customer subscribes to the newsletter program, I provide them a link to my web server where the past three newsletters and papers are stored. Another sales tool is only a click away.
Any way a small business can get an edge is extremely critical in the sales process. When you use solution selling, it’s like having another sales person at your side. That can be the difference in dollars and sense.
The Marketing Doc