How to sell in a difficult environment
While the ready availability of information on the Internet has made some types of sales easier, it has made other types harder. Customers have frequently completed their own diagnosis and prescribed their own solution before approaching your company, and it can be an awkward sales conversation if their self-diagnosis is wrong. Customers are no longer looking for the old style of sales conversation; instead they are looking for insights, according to Michael Harris in his book Insight Selling: Sell Value & Differentiate Your Product with Insight Scenarios.
It is almost always a mistake to argue with a customer’s preconceived solution, as that tends to alienate the customer. Instead, the best approach is to tell the customer a story about someone else who faced a similar problem and solved it in a manner which happens to coincide with your recommended solution. There are three key ingredients which need to be included with this type of insight scenario:
- Contrast, between the before picture and the after picture as provided by the solution described in the scenario
- Listening, to understand the buying vision being formed in the customer’s head, and
- Clarity, through asking questions to help the buyer tailor the vision to their circumstances
The book is quite short, but it provides a helpful plan for effective sales in an increasingly difficult environment.