Sales. A word and a concept which can conjure up images of people in suits, knocking on doors, and putting on elaborate shows with their wares (often knives or vacuum cleaners). Or maybe, if you were born after 1980, you think of an endless stream of cold calls and cold email campaigns that feel more like throwing darts in the dark than the carefully planned operations they are.
In reality, sales is a process that requires both skill and an understanding of how to sell a product to a person or company that genuinely needs it. From B2B sales lead generation to the moment when your prospect signs on the dotted line, you need to understand what value your goods or services are providing them.
This isn’t a matter of pitching a product in the dark. There’s a science behind sales that will turn a salesperson into the Sherlock Holmes of nearly any industry. They need to understand how the product or service they’re selling directly and indirectly impacts their targeted list of prospects.
Research is your friend.
According to HubSpot, it takes an average of 18 phone calls between the salesperson and the prospect before a sale is finally complete. So, what are you going to talk about?
The key is in understanding the product and how it relates to the target audience; this can all be accomplished through the use of careful research. B2B and B2C sales research happen in very different arenas and have different priorities.
B2B research means that you’re attempting to sell something to another company in a potentially unrelated industry. It’s like trying to learn a new language and become persuasive in it all at once. B2C sales allow companies to sell directly to a customer, and require a different research approach.
Market research is closely related to sales. More so than many people realize at first. It’s not just a matter of making a few calls and closing a new customer. In the B2B sales industry, the budget is a closely guarded piece of information.
The entire company operates within this budget, and spending money on anything requires justification. Before approaching a potential prospect, consider the following:
Undertake a holistic study of the industry
It’s not enough to read through the website of a quality lead that you believe will be a great sales prospect. A cursory glance won’t give you the information you need to really build the trust that inspires them to sign over any sum of money to your company.
You need to go into that sales’ call or meeting with an in-depth view of their industry. Not only does this improve your credibility, but it also allows you to understand how your goods or services can better benefit the company you’re trying to sell to.
It all starts with Google—as simple as that sounds, an initial internet search can expose residual information about a company and the larger industry that it’s a part of. Just looking at their website can give you an idea of how they’re presenting information to their target audience, but it can’t give you much insight into what that audience is actually looking for.
Take notes and prepare a brief report on the industry, why it matters, and where it’s going in the near and predictable future. Take the time to understand the target audience of your target audience, and you’ll be able to lead a more convincing sales call.
Discover how your product will improve their competitive advantage
Once you have a better understanding of the industry, it’s time to take a look at their top competitors. Ask yourself why these companies are doing better in the same industry as your sales prospect. Why do they have an advantage?
When you can clearly explain how your goods or services will help your prospect become more competitive to decision makers, you’ve found a way to address their pain points. Gaining that market share and overtaking competition leads to an increase in revenue, and this is always a positive selling point.
Speak their language
As you get deeper into industry research, you should be prepared to learn and adopt the jargon. This industry jargon will help you to establish a better relationship with your sales prospect. It’ll also show them that you understand the needs of their industry, and care enough to do your research.
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to see this jargon in action is through social media. Look at message boards and social media accounts of industry related companies and topics. The banter can also provide additional information on the pain points that may not be apparent at first. There’s nothing quite like getting the research straight from the source!
When in doubt, ask.
Industry research doesn’t have to be cold and impersonal. If you’re struggling to find the information you need, consult with industry insiders; this can be a contact from the company you’re targeting or someone who works within the field and has a proven track record of expertise.
Ask about pain points, and how your goods or services can help address them. This is the solution that should be presented during the sales efforts. The better prepared you are at the very beginning of the sales process, the faster you’ll be able to convince your prospect to go through with the purchase.
If you don’t have the resources to do it right, get help.
Not everyone is a born salesperson. If you’re struggling to train and maintain a sales team, it may be time to call in the experts! Reach out to Catalyst Sale for more information. We use a system of personal accountability to help you and your team learn to be more effective.