If you follow the ABCs of selling, it’s time to reconsider your approach.
”Always Be Closing” is still an important mission for salespeople, but “Always Be Helping” is more profitable for the organization and a valuable guideline when prospecting.
Why? Because repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers, a Manta study found.
The numbers don’t lie. Help your existing customers, and you’ll boost sales.
Know the difference
Organizations that follow “Always Be Closing” focus on finding new prospects, developing and refining pitches and following up with prospects until they get a yes.
Every move is designed to get prospects one step closer to the sale. Once closed, account executives tend to exit stage left and look to close the next deal.
Organizations that adopt the “Always Be Helping” approach focus more on what they can do for clients, instead of what the sale can do for them.
Sure, they still want to close, but they explore clients’ needs and wants and align them with the right benefits before they even talk about the sale. And when they close, they keep customers center stage, watching for changing needs.
Here are 8 ways you can shift toward the Always Be Helping mentality – and gain more sales.
1) Ask yourself, ‘Can I really solve this?’
You can’t help everyone. You shouldn’t help everyone. Prospects find you, or you find them because they have problems that need to be solved.
But that doesn’t mean you’re meant to try to fix them all. If a prospect’s problem is out of sync with what you offer, don’t try to fix it. Yes, you can help … by identifying problems, you can’t solve early on and directing those prospects to someone who is better suited to fix their problems.
That initial help – which actually killed that sale – might turn into more sales for you down the road when they have problems that align with your solutions.
2) Focus on the result
Customers need a product or service. But what they want is a specific result.
For instance, they may need a forklift, but what they want is a more efficient way to operate their warehouse. They may need a plane ticket, but what they want is safe passage to a destination.
Even when closing looks easy – say, a customer asks for a specific product with cash in hand – you want to help first: Ask about the result they want to achieve to make sure you deliver what they really need.
3) Identify your position
Most customers don’t sit and wait for account executives to find them. They’re already engaged in the buying journey when they come in contact with you. If you identify – and respond to – where they are in the sales journey, you won’t waste time covering what they already know or risk skipping what they don’t.
Offer information, answers, and help based on the buying stages:
- Awareness. They know they have a problem or need that must be met, but they haven’t figured out or compared options. It’s a good time for Marketing to nurture the situation.
- Consideration. Customers know there’s an issue and are ready to make an effort to find a solution. They’re ready to listen but aren’t committed to any solution, price or depth of relationship yet.
- Decision. Customers know what should resolve their issues. They’re ready to consider and compare solutions based on their budget, authority, needs and timeline.
4) Be the guide
In some industries – especially technical and medical – many customers don’t fully understand the reasons they would buy a product or service. They just know that what they’re using or doing isn’t as effective as they need it to be (or they’ve been told it needs to be).
In these situations, customers need help understanding the reason they would buy or upgrade before they even look at a product. Through insightful questions, you can join and guide them on the journey to discovering their reasons. Try these:
- What do you like best about what you have now?
- What would you change about what you have now?
- What is your most important need now?
- Do you struggle with (a common pain point)?
- What resource do you wish you had more of?
- What would you consider a successful purchase?
5) Deliver quality help online
Always Be Helping doesn’t mean you need to be in personal touch all the time. Organizations and account executives want to do more than just have an online presence, considering more than 80% of customers research products online before they buy, a GE Capital study found. They need full answers online, not just snippets of help.
For instance, some top account executives establish individual social media sites and feed those with product tips, industry news, and opportunities to chat live with themselves and other experts. They usually don’t carry the full burden, either: Sales enablement and customer success professionals pitch in with valuable material.
Customers consider online information that allows them to make better decisions the most helpful.
For instance, Amazon offers several product comparisons based on criteria such as customer rating, price and shipping options. It’s all just a scroll away on the same page as the product customers requested to see.
6) Make ‘Help’ your mantra . . .
Whether “Always Be Closing” is still the mantra, or there is no mantra at all, in your organization, it’s important to make “Always Be Helping” the main mindset.
Cultures are built around mantras when they’re incorporated in onboarding, training and as expectations for internal behavior. Of course, actions speak louder than words, so the mantra needs to be preached and practiced from the top down.
7) . . . And then a reality
A mantra sometimes gets said with reverence, but in actual day-to-day business it often doesn’t show up.
You can avoid that sales mistake by creating specific sales, marketing and service guides and procedures that embody the Always Be Helping principle.
For instance, some marketing teams create valuable content – white papers, tip sheets, product success stories, etc. – that reach new customers at intervals when they are likely experiencing new situations with products or services they’ve just purchased. And many account managers direct customers to the latest product or industry news they’ve posted on social media.
8) Tie it to business results
“Always Be Helping” sounds good on paper, but it won’t hold weight if it doesn’t create revenue. While your focus isn’t directly on closing, the result of your efforts should be closing more and bigger sales.
It can be difficult to link specific results to specific helpful actions. So, you want to track key performance metrics before and after an overall “Always Be Helping” program is embraced.
Remember: Taking an “Always Be Helping” approach to sales doesn’t mean you relinquish control of the sales process. Instead, you’re guiding the journey through more help and less hype.