Successful salespeople exhibit these two behaviors when opening sales calls effectively:
1. Let the customer talk more than you do
You may be selling the world’s best product or service, and you may be convinced it will solve all your prospect’s woes. But you may not be hearing subtle and not-so-subtle clues about their true needs.
The more your customer talks, the more you will learn about their implied and explicit needs, which puts you in a better position to offer the most helpful solutions. Prospects who talk more gain a better understanding of their own situation, and begin to realize the importance of resolving their problems.
2. Hold off on offering solutions until needs are uncovered
You can’t know what solution to offer if you don’t uncover customer needs and decision criteria first. If you spend your time talking about how quiet your machine is, and noise is not a factor your prospect cares about, you’ve wasted your time.
Until you investigate customer needs, you won’t know how to provide added value. It’s usually not a good idea to offer a solution until you know what problems you’re trying to solve.
Implied v. explicit needs
A need is any statement made by the prospect, which expresses a want or concern. There are two categories of buyer needs:
- Implied needs appear when a prospect’s in a state of dissatisfaction. Example: “We’ve had some quality issues with our present supplier.” Implied needs may not necessarily indicate that a prospect is ready to address the situation.
- Explicit needs are those the prospect recognizes as requiring action. Example: “Improving quality is our top priority.” Research shows that explicit needs are a strong predictor of sales success, but implied needs are not.
Increasing dissatisfaction in sales calls
Explicit needs show that prospects are unhappy with the product or service they’re using. Your job is to increase the dissatisfaction. It’s not the time to talk about solutions. Instead, “build the pain” to help the prospect recognize the need to act.
When dissatisfaction reaches critical mass, the prospect may decide to act and enter the “evaluation of options” stage. Now the prospect has a choice to make, and your strategy shifts to help them make the right decision.