Advanced Sales Techniques: Educate and Collaborate

Educate and Collaborate video

 

Advanced Customer Focused Sales Technique #3: Educating Your Customer

In a world where the average person is bombarded with over 5,000 commercial messages each day, it’s more important than ever for salespeople to find ways to cut through the noise and connect with potential customers. One way to do this is by educating them about what you’re selling. Why is this? Because when customers are educated about what they’re buying, they’re more likely to see the value in it. And when they see the value, they’re more likely to make a purchase.

Today’s consumers have access to so much online information that they make more educated decisions than ever. Other than buying consumables, people generally turn to the internet for information as their first step in the buying process. That is why it is essential to educate your potential customers – to answer their questions, differentiate from your competitors, and build trust, so they buy from you.

Educating is all about providing the information your customer needs to understand your product or service in a way that they will take notice of it, so they feel empowered to make a decision.

Empowerment is a must feeling for “the new customer.” Consumers want to feel comfortable making decisions, and educating is all about having the information available to research and find the answers they need.

There is a valid saying: “You can’t make it too easy for a customer to buy!”

This truth goes right through your business as you eliminate roadblocks in the sales process and educate your customers with information that helps them make a buying decision and to choose to do business with you.

In today’s world, the first-place buyers start looking is usually on the internet. If they know of you, they might go straight to your website. Otherwise, they may just use Google or Bing to search and hopefully find you.

Your education strategy will then differ depending on your products and services.

One approach is to include a knowledge library on your website, where visitors can access and download information. (Understanding your ideal customer profile allows you to customize your offering and tailor it to your target market.)

Another approach is to have a YouTube channel where you use video to demonstrate your products and services and educate potential customers about the benefits.

The educational material you can offer includes:

  • Ebooks,
  • Reports,
  • Newsletters,
  • Blogs,
  • Video demonstrations,
  • Podcasts, and
  • Webinars.

“Different strokes for different folks” applies here, meaning that some prefer reading while others like listening or watching. Prepare alternatives to meet your prospect’s communication preferences.

Where the media or situation allows, always ask potential customers what information they need to help them find the right solution and decide to buy.

Avoid repeating what they’ve already discovered for themselves, as this can be frustrating.

Using the knowledge acquired from your “Listening and Asking Questions” efforts; you can decide what content and education you should supply to them.

Add extra value by providing something they can’t get elsewhere, such as live or online product demonstrations, exclusive customer-only content, and more.

Tips for Successful Educating

  1. Be clear and concise in your presentation; your goal is to provide clarity, so the buyer does not get confused.
  2. Where relevant, you can add value with:
    • Latest marketplace trends,
    • Industry reports,
    • Survey results,
    • Relevant comparison charts.
  1. Use education techniques such as:
  • Demonstrations that provide an overview of your product and how it works are very effective as they provide credibility and build trust when people can see it with their own eyes.
    • Videos are an excellent tool to do this. Statistics from techjury.net show that “Video is the number 1 source of information for 66% of people” and “93% of businesses gain new customers as a result of branded video content.”
    • You can produce videos demonstrating alternative uses of your product, including benefits that may not be immediately obvious.
  • Use stories about the experiences of past customers who have seen positive results.
    • Stories resonate with people and are, therefore, much more helpful than claims you make. For example, you can claim that customers have saved $X or X amount of time by using your product, but that is much more believable when a customer says it.
    • Ask customers to provide this information in testimonials (preferably video) that state a tangible outcome they have experienced and indicates what a customer can anticipate by using your product or service: For example:
      • I experienced an increase in sales of x%,
      • We increased our output by $x,
      • We saved x hours per day,
      • Etc.

You need to be specific, but this is not easy to show the tangible outcomes in some sectors. So it is essential to get as specific as you can.

For example, instead of promising clients a ‘happier life,’ a life coach might get more specific around strategies to successfully get your work/life balance under control or guarantee a more effective and harmonious relationship.

Once you’ve educated your prospect and provided the information they need, you’re in an excellent position to help them to find the right solution.

This leads to:

Advanced Customer Focused Sales Technique #4: Collaborating with Your Customer

The old-school sales processes often involved confrontation, bringing out a battle of wills. However, that has been almost made obsolete by the methods of education and collaboration.

Collaboration means that instead of a head-butting process, we will try and work side by side with the customer. It’s somewhat like teaming two horses together to pull in the same direction, towards the same outcome.

Collaboration skills are critical to learn as you are in this together, and buyers want to be involved in arriving at the right solution.

We have discussed the topic of relationship selling in a previous article in this series. Relationship selling allows you to build the trust required, so the customer accepts you and welcomes your input as you work together to:

  • Identify their needs,
  • Evaluate how they will benefit from your solution, and
  • Navigate them through the decision-making process.

The key to success here is to get the customer to uncover the root cause of their problems – because they often don’t realize what this is.

You can help the customer cut through the superficial needs and get to the root cause of the issue. This way, they are in a more realistic place to see what their options are.

You can use some deep-dive questions to help this process.

There is a simple exercise that gets powerful results called ‘The 5 “Why?”s’.

Take the problem the customer gives you and ask them, “Why?” When they answer, ask four more “Why?” s to each successive answer. This exercise allows you to dig down on superficial issues to get to the root of the problem.

Here’s an example to illustrate this:

Problem – we’re not making enough sales.

  • Why? We are not getting enough customers.
  • Why? People can’t find us on the internet.
  • Why? We are not on page 1 of Google.
  • Why? Our website sucks.
  • Why? We got a friend to put together our website and have not done anything further.

Solution: Find a web solutions provider to help you develop an effective website and implement effective marketing strategies to get results.

The root cause of the problem will often be very different from the first description. So don’t make assumptions or leap to conclusions before investigating everything.

Look to the positive as well as the negative

The natural tendency for customers can be to focus on problems or what doesn’t work. However, too much negativity can put blinkers over possible solutions, so try and steer them towards the positives.

Start comparing what the future could look like to their current situation. You are looking for the opportunity to show them the positive differences and your solutions to get there.

Use some Deep Dive Questions such as:

  1. What would success look like for you?
  2. If money were no issue, what solutions would you adopt?
  3. Try and look forward to 5 years from now and tell me what you see.
  4. How would your long-term business success change if we could solve this problem now?

Use Collaborating Language

In your conversations, use “collaborating language” such as:

  • Let’s look at this and work out a solution together.
  • Considering what we have discussed, what differences would you see if we were to move forward together?

While this customer-focused relationship selling process will probably take longer than the traditional sales method to complete, the results will speak for themselves.

Anticipate Problems Along the Way

In addition to identifying the root cause of their issues, problems will arise during the sales process itself, such as:

  • They don’t have the budget,
  • The timing is not right,
  • They have an existing obligation to someone else,
  • The person you’re speaking to isn’t authorized to make a decision.

Try to anticipate these before they occur and have solutions to address them proactively.

If you suspect other reasons the person is hesitant to make the purchase, go back to your deep-dive questions and delve further.

In traditional sales methods, handling objections involves having an answer ready for every situation so you can still push the prospect to buy. However, the collaborative approach involves greater flexibility to ease their anxieties.

You still need to work out your responses in advance, but your focus is on their needs, and your mindset is serving, not selling.

Finally, don’t be attached to the result. If they buy, that’s great, but if they don’t, that’s okay too. And don’t be defensive. If they say ‘no,’ it’s not about you. This change of mindset will help relieve the stress for you.

When you use a collaborative selling approach, confirming the sale is the logical conclusion to your relationship-building and problem-solving process.

 

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