Buyers make purchase decision because they have a need that needs to be fulfilled and based on conversations with you (the salesperson) and the company (the brand that is the company that is omnipresent across its website, social infrastructure and conversation with some of the existing customer experiences). Maybe this will get a bit clearer with a few examples.
Sales conversations at networking meets
Let us relate this to a networking meet. You meet with a new guy, start a new conversation. You will typically start by asking them some generic questions and try to know them a bit better. You will NOT talk about yourself unless there is a genuine interest from the other person to learn about you as well. The more knowledge you have about the other person, you can figure out what relevant points you can pull into the conversation, if you want to keep the conversation going. The points that are irrelevant can continue to stay in the closet.
The same rules apply in sales conversations. A lot of sales folks rehearse on an elevator pitch they will use very often in such scenarios and they deliver it, without trying to figure out if any of it is relevant to the other person. Elevator pitches don’t get you sales relationships. Empathy about the other person and how you are making your product relevant for him wins you friends and business. You actually need to care about this other person to earn his trust.
Like human relationships, the brands that care more about the other person than they do about themselves build more trust and confidence and also the business.
How does the buyer build confidence about your company?
If you think that the sales guy is doing a marvellous job of convincing your buyer, then that may only be half the truth. The sales guy will always talk great about the company he is representing. That is a fact that all buyers know and so they will always take the sales pitch with a pinch of salt. They would want to do their own due diligence on the company before they decide to engage.
Some of the obvious choices are the digital and social properties of the company. The website is again more of a mouthpiece and beyond a hygiene factor, losing popularity as a confidence building tool. The buyer will want to engage with your existing customers and will want to look at some of the conversations, experiences across your social channels. The thought leadership that you bring in a domain will be visible through the content that you are generating and publishing, the topics that you are talking of, at events etc., All of these items will help build confidence, way above what the sales guy can do, in a few face to face interactions.
Focusing on the larger goals
How can you show potential customers that you are interested in solving real problems? It is not enough to just act like you care. You need to actually care and prove it in the way you act. This is not just across your sales team. It is just as relevant across your operating teams; customer support teams etc. because all of them help in building a brand for your company. The more they know what your company stands for, the better they will be able to react in situations like these.
The Power and importance of empathy
But how do you explain the power and importance of empathy to executives who only want to sell, and promote, at the drop of a hat? You have to show them that, as a society, we tune out ads, and promotion, and ego-driven marketing tactics. Promotion and propaganda don’t work so well in today’s world because there are so many tools available and it is so easy for people to help themselves.
But we tune into content and brands that help us. The only way to accomplish this is for brands to create content that actually helps people and lots of it.
When given a choice, all of us will only buy from brands we know, like and trust! So then, why do we believe that our companies will be able to do better business by just pushing smart sales people at our buyers?
Regards – Atul Dhakappa