“How to conduct your conversation with a well informed client” – Interview by John Smibert
In this conversation Tony Bonanno talks about how the salesperson’s role has changed in recent years. He emphasises that the salesperson can bring unique perspective that is of value to a well informed customer.
His key message is that you the “salesperson should not to be put off by the fact that your customer is more educated. In actual fact, embrace it; you can have a different quality conversation with them”.
Tony goes on to say how the salesperson should conduct the conversation – particularly in the ‘discovery’ phase of the sales process – in order to leverage their unique perspective and create value for the customer through their insightful questions. See the interview below to see his recommendations.
Tony Bonnano is a thought leader in sales management, sales growth and behavioural change
John: Hello, I’m with Tony Bonanno again! Welcome back, Tony!
Tony: It’s my pleasure, John!
John: Hey Tony, there’s been a lot of research over the last few years about what buyers do in determining what they need to buy. And a lot of that research, CEB and so on, have said that buyers go through 70% of the buying process before they ever engage with salespeople. I think some research like that can be dangerous, but what are your thoughts?
Tony: Well, the first thing I’m not going to do is knock the research; I think the research is valid. It’s been interpreted in many ways, and it’s that interpretation which then leads people to take different courses of action.
Tony: So, I think if we talk about 70% of the buying process, what does that really mean? Is it the full buying process? Is it the “We have a problem – we need to look at what’s available.” process? Unless you engage with your customer, you’re not going to know.
John: And are they really in a process at all?
Tony: Absolutely. What is clear from the research is that customers are far more aware of the possibilities of what they could do to deal with different challenges they have in their organisation.
Tony: Whereas they may have been say 10 years ago 20% aware, now they could be 50-60-70 percent aware of what they can do.
John: Because of the Internet and all the content and information that’s available, the research that they can do and so on. Whereas in the past they probably had to rely on salespeople to bring that content to them.
Tony: Absolutely. They don’t have to rely on salespeople to provide information anymore, but what they want from salespeople is to have that person take them on… let’s call it the remainder of the journey, whatever that might be, in a way that leads them to a successful decision to manage change through whatever it is that salesperson can provide.
John: I was talking to John Dougan recently, and John made a point that really made me think about it. He said salespeople bring two things to the table, one’s perspective and one’s utility. I think that perspective, that salespeople have all this experience working with other customers – and their company have the experience of working with customers worldwide – typically in the same industry and had the same challenges, or similar, to what your customer does – salespeople have that perspective that you could probably never get on the Internet. That’s good value to bring to the table!
Tony: Good salespeople.
John: Good salespeople.
John: And I think that The Challenger Sale and all the other people talk about how you bring that perspective to the table, how you, if you want to call it, challenge your customers, or at least bring ideas to the table.
Tony: Exactly. So, the message that I have for salespeople is not to be put off by the fact that your customer is more educated. In actual fact, embrace that; you can have a different quality conversation with them. As a matter of fact, because they know a little bit more about what’s available you can spend more time on doing the important things, like getting to understand what needs to change in the organisation, so that you can position your solutions appropriately.
John: And what I say is that salespeople need to understand the unique of value they personally bring to the table, and they’ll have that no matter how educated the customer is.
John: There’s some really good points there, Tony. What’s your bottom line on that discussion?
Tony: The bottom line is that salespeople who conduct really good quality discovery can often help customers realise things they weren’t even aware of.
John: So it’s that discovery word again, isn’t it, and doing a really good discovery as the salesperson, and bringing your perspective to the table you’re going to open some doors to opportunities that you may never have known existed, and you’ll create value for your customer.
Tony: Yes, and that’s the value that the salesperson brings.
John: Fantastic – thanks very much, Tony! Love it!
Tony: Pleasure, John!
John: Look forward to the next time we talk!
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