From snake oil peddlers to the thirty-minute infomercial, we’ve seen it all when it comes to sales techniques. One thing is certain, though. Today’s consumers will not respond to “old school” sales practices. No longer will a “one-size-fits-all” sales approach work.
In a marketplace where consumers can have almost everything “their way” right away — from lunch to the day’s news — successful selling must be built upon an authentic appeal that resonates and offers a solution to a problem.
Seeking that authenticity and discovering that need doesn’t have to be difficult. Today’s most effective sales teams use data to market and sell effectively. McKinsey and Company surveyed more than 1,000 sales organizations worldwide and “found that 53 percent of those that are ‘high performing’ rate themselves as effective users of analytics.”
Customer data is a far more reliable business building tool than preying on someone’s emotions, using a fear tactic, or broadly throwing out a sales pitch and seeing what sticks. Here’s how your sales team can use it to serve existing customers, attract new ones, and make more sales to grow your business.
Discover your ideal customer’s most pressing need or pain point
Effective sales begin with a relationship. Gone are the days when a pushy, generic, persuasive approach produced sales. Today’s customer wants to be known and understood. They need a problem solved or a question answered. You’ll make a sale — and a long-term customer — when your product or service solves their problem or takes their pain away.
In “7 Old School Sales Techniques You Must Avoid,” HubSpot’s Marc Wayshak writes, “Prospects don’t care about your product or service. They only care about the problems you can help them solve. Instead of pitching your product, ask effective questions to discover each prospect’s deepest frustration. Then present a solution to solve that challenge.”
A basic survey tool can help you discover what your customer’s most pressing need is. Compiling all clients’ existing purchases within your CRM or marketing automation software and then looking for patterns can also reveal what problem buyers are trying to solve.
Sales reps should habitually keep notes on each client to document where the client is in the sales funnel, what transpired during the previous conversations, items for follow-up, and any personal info that becomes a topic of conversation.
Taking all of these information-gathering techniques together, you can compile the data to reveal your customers’ greatest need and many facets of it:
- Is it constant or occasional?
- What exacerbates it?
- What solves it?
Get to know your customers — who they are and what they like
Who is your target customer?
The more you know about your target customer, the more effective all your marketing and sales efforts can be. This type of data can help you become more focused on whom you serve, and therefore, can help you create a narrower offering.
The more specific your offering, the more likely your sales will increase, plus it’s a more efficient and economical use of your time, money, and resources. You know you are creating something that’s needed and you’re taking it right to the very customers who are desperate for it.
“Only focus on talking to prospects who are a good fit for what you have to offer,” writes HubSpot’s Wayshak. How do you figure out which prospects are a good fit? By examining the data!
Basic demographic data can help you pinpoint and create a highly receptive pool of qualified leads for your sales reps. Find out the basics about your customers:
- Income level
- Purchase history
Drilling down to figure out basic demographics helps you target advertising and craft specific messaging to make all of your sales efforts more effective. In today’s noisy world filled with non-stop marketing messages, yours will have a much better chance of cutting through to your intended customer if it’s tailored to their interests and needs.
Examine and predict buying behavior to retain customers and attract new ones
While criminal psychologists may disagree about the popular quote from TV talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” it’s quite relevant when it comes to buyers in the marketplace. Data about your customers’ past behavior can be extremely valuable as you mobilize your sales team.
Statistics show that repeat customers are more likely to buy again. According to Marketing Metrics, “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.” When existing customers become legacy clients, that’s actually a boost to your bottom line. Customer retention is more valuable to your business than customer acquisition is. Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company found that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”
Current customers’ experiences with your product or services can help you know best how to provide valuable customer service, which ensures a long-term partnership. This data is also helpful in reaching out to leads to nurture new client relationships.
Look at your clients’:
- Previous purchases
- Behavior before, during, and after a sale
- Lead origination
- Previous responses to specific messaging
After the data is collected
It’s also helpful to take the data from these three categories and examine them in light of one another. Where do they intersect or overlap? What patterns emerge? What questions about your customers are still unanswered?
The more you demand of the data, the more informed you’ll be about your clients.
And the more informed you are, the more effective your sales team will be.
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