The New Conceptual Selling Marketing 3360 Phil Bartos, Executive in Residence
Chapter 1: Why Your Customers Really Buy “People buy for their own reasons, not for yours.” Myths of traditional selling: • Push the Slinky Sphinx. • Use anything that works . . . Focus on techniques • Keep things on track . . . Customers aren’t stupid! • Do more legwork . . . Sell smart not “hard.” • You gotta believe! . . . It’s process not rah-rah that counts.
Key: Focus on Customer’s Decision Making Process Main principles: • Buying is special case decision-making. • Customers are predictable and logical. • Decision-process is sequenced . . . Identifiable and trackable. • Fit or no fit for your product. • Don’t work against the customer’s decision process.
Tactical Planning: Three Phases of a Sales Call • Getting Information • Giving Information • Getting Commitment Consider & contrast the classic steps of the selling process: Prospecting, Qualifying, Pre-approach, approach, presentation, answering objections, close and follow-up.
Chapter 2: How Customers Make Buying Decisions Types of thinking: • Cognition – understand situation. • Divergent – explore options. • Convergent – select best solution.
Traditional vs Joint Venture Selling Traditional selling and two false assumptions: • All potential buyers can use product. • Show and tell benefits lead to a buy. Joint venture selling: • Follows the natural order of decision-making…cognition, divergence and then convergence.
Chapter 3: “. . . Win-Win” Win-Win: Profitable and comfortable, but not a matter of luck! Win-Lose: “Backlash” . . . Two stages – Buyer’s remorse, then Buyer’s revenge. Lose-Win: “Buying the business” Lose-Lose: Avoid by focusing each SSO on Win-Win
Challenges to Staying Win-Win • “There’s no fit.” • “I’ve got to meet quota.” • “My competition is undercutting me.” • “My customer won’t let things stay Win-Win.” Note: It’s time to get off the dead horse.
Summary of Basic Goals of Every Sales Call • Don’t oversell on expectations…”under promise and over deliver.” • Don’t get suckered into a giveaway. • Hear/Listen to the customer out…let the customer talk! • BE WILLING TO WALK!
Chapter 4: Life Beyond the Product Pitch Conceptual Selling begins with the recognition that every decision involves individual perception. “No one buys a product per se. What is bought is what the customer thinks the product or service will do for him or her.” Customer Concept is a “mindset” or “solution image.”
Identifying the Concept Note: Treat every sales call as if it were your first call on the customer. • Focus on Results • Discrepancy • Importance • Solving a problem • Customerize • Understand then connect
Common Mistake Making a product pitch, first. Lesson:Cognition must always come first.
Advantages of Concept First • Allows you to learn more about the customer. • Focus on results. • Differentiate yourself. • Minimizes importance of price competition. • Position yourself with the person who makes the final decision. • Identifies where there is not a Win-Win.
Chapter 5: Why am I here? The Single Sales Objective Criteria: • Product/service • Specific, clear and concise • Definable and measurable • Tied to a timeline • Usually not connected by, “and”
Chapter 6: What do I want the customer to do? Traditional sales call goals: • Usually salesperson-driven vs customer-driven • Too general • Unrealistic
Commitment to Action Commitment to action: • Win-Win - Joint venture • Best action commitment • Is this Action Commitment specific? • Does it focus on what the customer will do? • Is the statement of Best Action measurable? • Does this Best Action Commitment move the sale forward? • Is this Best Action Commitment realistic?
What if you can’t get the minimum? Choices: • Ask questions about resistance. • Revise Minimum Acceptable Action downward. • Walk away.
Chapter 7: Why should the customer see me? Valid business reason: Key ideas • Give information…who and why. • Foundation to discuss customer’s Concept. Critical prerequisites: • Purpose of appointment – customer’s perspective. • Preparation. • Optimum use of time. • Courteous and “effective.” • Set mutual expectations. • Statement of reasons for meeting.
Setting Appointment Expectations Guidelines: • Clarify your selling responsibilities. • Clarify customer’s responsibilities. • State purpose of meeting-customer perspective. • Identify people to be present. • Itemize materials needed. Note: Confirm appointment.
Other Appointment Considerations Verify meeting focus: • What you’re doing. • Is it what the customer wants? Dealing with surprise guests: • Identify the guests…Buying Influence. • Recap discussion.
Three Common Reservations - Responses Valid Business Reason: 1. It can’t be necessary on every call. Sales calls and social calls don’t equal. • I don’t want to come across as “hard-nosed.” Focus on mutual business needs. • I feel uncomfortable stating the reason out loud. …then, is it a valid reason?
The Long-term Payback Differentiation!! …being remembered and listened to can be an important differentiation from the customer’s point-of-view.
Chapter 8: Do I have credibility? Basic reasons customers are reluctant to buy: • No need . • No money. • No desire. • No urgency. • No trust…Number one reason! Note: There are exceptions.
Check credibility on every sales call! “The sales call where you assume you have credibility is the sales call where you will lose it.”
Do you have credibility? Weighing the evidence. Evidence you have do have credibility-reactions and behaviors: • Customer ready to talk about product. • Customer asks “how” not “why” questions. • Customer says you are trusted. • Customer tells you personal information. • Customer gives you clear and unambiguous attention.
Do you have credibility? Weighing the evidence. Evidence you do not have credibility-reactions and behaviors: • Customer make you jump through hoops and questions credentials. • Customer controls the meeting. • Customer is “silent” and guarded. • Customer questions your logic. • Customer is antagonistic or defensive.
Earning Credibility: Guidelines • Ask precise questions. • Listen intently…eye contact. • Be yourself. • Don’t be a “know-it-all.” • Stay Win-Win…Counter antagonism with specifics, understanding and don’t interrupt. • Remember-”Don’t over promise and under deliver.”
Chapter 9: Learning to Listen It’s all about dialogue! Why ask good questions? • Is their a Win-Result opportunity? • Establish rapport. • Position yourself in the selling process. • Identify differences with competition. • Reinforce credibility. • Motivate and sustain customer’s interest in a Win-Win.
Why do salespersons talk so much? Sales professionals say: “I feel more comfortable being in control.” “It’s my job to tell the customer about the product.” “Talking is what the customer usually wants you/me to do.” “Talking takes less planning.” “Sometimes your afraid to hear the answers.”
The Questioning Process Traditional selling advice: • “Never ask questions to which you don’t already know the answer.” Conceptual Selling advice: • “Never ask a question to which you already know the answer.”
Chapter 10: The Five Questions Types Types and definitions: • Confirmation…validate data/information. • New information…clarify customer’s Concept and desired business result. • Attitude…customer’s personal needs, values and attitudes. • Commitment…understand position. • Basic issue…identify customer concerns.
Chapter 11: Establish Superb Communication Selling is a form of teaching. Important characteristics: • Emphasis on dialogue. • Use of pauses. Avoid question shock: • Sales persons ask five or more questions per minute. • …and, waits one second for an answer. • …then, waits one second to comment and move on.
Golden Silence “. . . Think-speak” Benefits of Golden Silence: • Number of customer reactions increase. • Length of responses increases. • Reliability of information improves. • Number of unsolicited responses increase. • Number of customer questions increase. • Open-ended thinking increases. • Focus of discussion moves to Conceptual Selling. • Increases time to think.
“Techniques” to Avoid:Dangerous Verbal Signals • “Think about it.” • Mimicry. • “Yes…but.” • Rhetorical questions/tags ...be careful of “it’s obvious.” • “Why?”
Chapter 12: The Importance of Differentiation Information that makes a salesperson effective: • Identifies fit of product with customer’s Concept. • Demonstrates a salesperson’s is offering the best solution.
Differentiation: Why it’s important. Buyers decision-making or selection process: • Random selection • Selection by differentiation . . . acting on a perceived distinction
Linking Customer Concept to Product Basic ways: • “Let the buyer do the sorting, or buyer differentiation.” . . . Deadly approach! • “Me too.” . . . Works in favor of low bidder. • Emphasizing Unique Strengths . . . The fundamental task of Giving Information.
Chapter 13: Using the Joint Venture Approach Benefit to the salesperson not the customer: • It’s natural. • It’s fluid. • Less stressful. • More predictable. • It’s logical.
Input, “Ownership,” and Commitment Other advantages of Joint Venture Selling: • Facilitates customer input into the process. • Encourages customer ownership in the solution. • Promotes long-term commitment. Note: Input of customers leads to ownership-leading to long-term commitments.
The Fourth-Quadrant Trap Lessons learned: • Stick to the process! • Never give a “dog-and-pony” presentation to a group whose members you don’t know. • Never start with the a product pitch….know the customers Concept…mindset or solution image. • Test the readiness of the customer by asking questions. • When in the fourth quadrant, pause and ask for feedback.
Chapter 14: Beyond the Chumming Exercise • Every sales call must result in a measurable degree of Action Commitment…Best Action Commitment or Minimum Acceptable Action The investment is too great not to. • Vague promises not a sign of commitment. • Focus on specific actions and dates.
Incremental Commitment Key characteristics of commitment: • Mutual • Incremental • Not a “chumming” exercise • Fundamental issue is time
Chapter 15: Don’t Call Them Objections Basic Issues are hidden causes of customer reluctance and Objections are manifestations of Basic Issues…a Lose perception. Objections are normally tangible. Basic Issues relate to the customer Concept. • Never judge a Basic Issue…it’s a feeling. • Don’t assume you know the Basic Issue.
Commitment Signals Commitment Signal is a message from the customer that they are ready to move the buy/sell process forward. • “How long will it take…?” • “When can my…?” • “How much lead time to get started?” • “I’d like to check out references.”
Chapter 16: Pre-call Planning and Rehearsal Always start with the Concept! A sales call should never be a “song and dance” put on for the customer. The point of Conceptual Selling is to interact with customers and establish a dialogue. Planning and Rehearsing a “conversation”
No-risk Rehearsal Rehearse with a friend. Brief your partner: • Role of Buying Influence. • Win-Win history. • Describe the SSO • Describe Response Mode…Win-Result. • Other unique or relevant information.
Pre-call Feedback Checklist: • Stated Valid Business Reason. • Lead with good Confirmation Question. • Ask one good Attitude Question. • Ask Commitment Question and invite Incremental Commitment. • Use logic, key words, cognition, divergent and convergence. • Leverage from Strengths. • Use Golden Silence I and II. • Use Joint Venture Selling. • Check Credibility and move to Win-Win
How Much Rehearsal? Basic guidelines: • The more revenue the more attention. • The more time invested the more important the planning…approaching the close. • The closer to Win-Win and Win-Result the more important the manage each call. Look to the future and long-term relationships.
Chapter 17: Assessing the Call Basic reasons to assess each call: • Understand information exchanged and what information needs to be exchanged. • Judge the interpersonal data and evaluate interaction.
First Process: Review Three related phases of the sales call: • What’s the current information level? • What’s the current level of differentiation? • What’s the current level of Action Commitment?