03 Sep 2018
B2B Selling Strategy- A discussion point that came up at a convention recently. The phrase alone left me cold. In 20 years of selling I’ve taken a number of prescribed selling courses, apparently honing my skills in modern selling. After applying and adapting these skills over hundreds of sales meetings I’m convinced that by far the most critical element is almost completely lost on all course providers.
People buy from people. Yes, it’s a statement that’s reached cliched status but also so incredibly misunderstood. Sure, most sales courses teach elements of rapport building but eventually after unsuccessfully applying the techniques I began to completely disregard the cynical, psychological attempts at building relationships and began to actually empathise. Essentially, doing what I do in my private life, be genuinely interested in people. Not from a cynical revenue perspective but because these “prospects” were human beings that were facing genuine challenges.
Countless times I’ve engaged in a conversation that had little to do with the solutions I had to offer. My personal view was that I was operating as a consultant. Therefore, I should share the industry insights I was free to share and offer a true value-added service.
On rarer occasions, I’ve even advised a business to choose a competitor solution as I knew it to be a much closer fit. The kind of relationships that are built by taking bold steps like that are genuine. Genuine consultant-focussed selling. Of course, where I believed the solutions I offered would increase retention, profit or efficiency I made it clear!
The increase in sales I found through this kind of approach would prove to define my sales career.
Actually, as a side note, I took the course in spin selling in my early 20’s. There were many candidates from multiple businesses in attendance. Spending 3 days delving into all aspects of B2B sales, I finished the course full of enthusiasm. Within a few weeks I met with an enterprise business in Stevenage, my first meeting with a professional buyer. My resolve being instantly tested as the buyer had attended the very same selling course I’d just finished. Apparently sending professional buyers on selling courses is standard. I didn’t win the business.
However, I stand by human to human selling to the point that I see no alternative. Humanity holds with it compassion, understanding, empathy and communication- business and sales should be no different. You are trying to understand someone else’s issue that you can potentially help them overcome. It has struck me that this is even more crucial in a time of less and less human interaction and more online/digital communication.
Although the automotive buyer journey is increasingly digital, with the majority of consumers even wanting the process to be 100% digital, the human side of personalisation and targeted touchpoints must be kept alive.
This is the part that often makes the difference, makes the sale and makes the customer remember, re-purchase and recall the experience to others.
Do you agree? Do you think there is still a large emphasis on relationship building in the automotive aftersales industry or is it slowly losing relevance? Please feel free to comment your thoughts and thanks for reading my Saturday morning musings!