STRATEGIC CUSTOMERS PLANNING
High performing salespeople tend to be strategic problem solvers for their customers. The top salespeople who are effective strategic problem solvers have the skills and knowledge to be to:
- Uncover and understand the customer’s strategic need by gaining an in-depth knowledge of the customer’s organization.
- Develop solutions that demonstrate a creative approach to addressing customer’s strategic needs in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
- Arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement.
Critical key terms to strategic problem solving:-
- Strategic needs
- Creative solutions
- Mutually beneficial agreement
The salesperson who understands the full range of customer’s needs is in much better position to provide a product solution that helps the customer progress more efficiently and effectively towards achieving her/ his organization’s strategic goal. “The top salespeople have an in-depth understanding of our needs,” said one business purchasing agent. “They can match-up their products with these needs to help us reach our goals”.
For each customer a salesperson is often faced with specific, unique set of problems to solve. As a result, each customer requires a specific solution from the sales organization. The ability of a salesperson to tailor a ‘custom’ solution for each customer is critical today. The salesperson needs to use creative problem solving technique to identify the specific problem that meets each customer’s needs.
Mutually beneficial agreements
To achieve a mutually beneficial agreement, salespeople and customers must work together to develop a common understanding of issues and challenges at hand. Information about an organization’s business strategies and needs is often highly confidential. But more and more customers in the interest of developing solutions that will achieve their strategic goals are willing to let salespeople to cross the threshold confidentially.
In this case there is collaborative (win-win) agreement rather than the adversarial (win-lose) agreement.
The customer relationship model
The customer relationships model brings together the main elements of consultative selling. The model shows that the customers have strategic needs salespeople must meet through creative solutions. In doing so, both buyer and seller benefit. The customer reaches its goals, as does the seller. This result in the seller being able to sell to the customer again, again and again thus building a long-term relationship. Strategic customer sales planning is extremely important to the success of today’s salesperson.
Pre-approach refers to the planning the sales call on a customer or prospect.
Customer relationship model
Reasons for planning the sales call
This is the key to sales success. There are four frequently mentioned reasons.
Sales call planning can greatly reduce nervousness and increase self-confidence. It is also important also in making a sales presentation; you increase confidence in yourself and your ability as a sales person. This is also important in sales call.
Develops an atmosphere of Goodwill
The salesperson who understands a customer’s needs and is prepared to discuss how a product will benefit the prospect is appreciated by the buyer. Knowledge of a prospect and concern for the prospect’s needs demonstrates a sincere interest in a prospect that generally is rewarded with an attitude of goodwill from the prospect. This goodwill gradually aids in building the buyer’s confidence and results in a belief that the salesperson can be trusted to fulfill the obligations.
Good business relationships are built on your knowledge of your company, industry and customer’s needs. Show prospects that you are calling on them to help solve their problems or satisfy their needs. These factors are the mark of professional salesperson who uses specialized knowledge in an ethical manner to aid customers.
A confident salesperson who is well prepared to discuss how products solve particular needs always will be more successful than the unprepared salesperson. Careful planning ensures that you have diagnosed a situation and have a remedy for a customer’s problem. Planning ensures that a sales presentation is well thought out and appropriately presented.
Elements of a sales call
The sales call objective is the main purpose of a salesperson’s contact with a prospect or customer.
Selling starts with setting a pre-call objective. This is because a sales call must move systematically toward a sale. Taking time to set a pre-call objective is very important. Before every sales call ask yourself “what am I going in here for? What is the result I’m trying to make happen? If they give me an opportunity, what am I going to recommend?”
Focus and flexibility
Writing down your pre-call objective in case the focus of your efforts. Focus enables salespeople move their customers in the direction of predetermined goal. Knowing where you are going definitely increases the likelihood of getting there. Obviously if the pre-call objective turns out to be inappropriate as the sales call develops, it’s easy to switch tactics. Often such changes involve a simple redirection.
When asked the purpose of a call, some salespeople say enthusiastically, “it’s to get an order. Let go!” Of course, everyone’s in favor of getting orders, but that is more likely to happen if the salespersons stop and ask themselves questions such as: what need of this prospect can I serve? Which product or service is best for this account? The more specific the objective the better.
Moving towards your objectives
Sometimes a sales call has limited objective. Guiding the customer in the direction of that preplanned outcome is what experienced salespeople do on most sales calls.
Don’t let anyone tell you that selling is repetitive that the next step becomes a matter of rote (learning by repeating). Set SMART call objective
Specific – to get an order is not specific
Measurable – quantifiable (size, number etc)
Achievable – not too difficult to fulfill