The strategy of proving to the prospect that your solutions are better than the competition’s may not work, because demand may evaporate in hard times. A better step: creating demand.
The following charts illustrate the difference between responding to demand and creating it:
Responding to demand
- Ask questions that get the prospects to discuss their recognized problems and issues
- Present your offering as a solution to the prospect’s stated needs
- Describe to the prospect why your offerings are superior to the competition’s.
- Deliver product-based presentations
- Obtain appointments at the user level to discuss tactical problems and opportunities, and
- Understand the prospect’s budget to formulate and price your offering appropriately.
- Ask question to uncover unrecognized problems and challenge the prospect’s current perceptions
- Increase the size, urgency and severity of the prospect’s problems to increase the value of your offering
- Present your offering to meet previously unacknowledged problems
- Conduct value-based conversations around the prospect’s most pressing issues
- Obtain appointments at the executive level to present a persuasive business case
- Use networking, referrals and strategic prospecting to generate new business appointments.
A common mistake
The mistake some salespeople make is to look for prospects who are in the market for their products or services instead of trying to create demand by answering one or more of these prospect questions:
- Where can we cut back on spending?
- Can we get by with what we already have?
- If we have to make a change, will it increase revenues or cut costs and do it quickly?
Image and consulting
Here are two other tips for selling in tough times:
- Watch your image. Tough times can cause anxiety. Don’t let it show. Negative messages spread like wildfire and can hurt your image with prospects and customers. Make sure you and your company are perceived in the best possible light.
- Concentrate on consulting. Prospects aren’t looking for “off-the-shelf” solutions to their problems. Tailor your services to meet precise needs. This means taking more time to be helpful, understanding and supportive of your prospects and customers.