As organizations try to expand beyond product sales, or broaden their service offerings, your sales techniques need to signal a more grounded relationship between your organization and your clients. Selling now involves a deep partnership in which you and your customer co-define the challenge, partner for innovation, and pursue the solutions that serve the customer needs.
This "deep selling" requires a deep sense of empathy. You need the ability to understand not only the needs, but the wants and aspirations of the other party.
You know that "selling" is passé, and a term from a bygone era with shades of Willie Loman. You no longer just sell products, and it is no longer sufficient to just generate short-term solutions. Today, the relationship between you and your client has to be one of strategic partnership.
You now have to be able to help your clients envision where their business may go beyond immediate product needs and immediate solutions. To do this, you have to establish a true coalition with your client. You have to develop a sense that the relationship is long-term. In order to do this, you must persuade the client of the following:
- You have a mastery of the business. You need to know not only your business, but theirs. The client must know that you understand their products and their intent and that what you offer is of direct relevance to them. Deep sales demands more than a cursory knowledge, but rather a deep professional understanding.
- You are committed to the relationship long-term. You make it clear that you are traveling down this road together, and that your success is tied closely to their success, and that you will be a partner in overcoming their challenges--present and future.
- You are willing to accept a loss. Clients must understand that for the sake of a deeper relationship, you are willing to take on a short-term loss for the potential of a longer-term gain. That is, you will prototype a concept at cost, or invest time for a new program without a guarantee of return. Smart entrepreneurs view the cost of gaining traction as a worthy investment.
- You project agility. Clients must know that no matter how committed you are to your products, service, or solution, you are willing to make appropriate adjustments to meet their needs. The challenge is to make sure that commitments to the client do not jeopardize your strategic business intent.
- You identify with the client organization as well as your own. For these deep relationships, clients must have the sense that you take pride in affiliating with their organization. While you have your own label and brand, you see that your position is enhanced with the partnership with the client. In moments of frustration, you will work out the details of the relationship in the context of a common goal.
- You can execute. Clients are not looking to you as a partner so you can feel good about yourself. They want to know that you can deliver. Not only can you help them think out their aspirations and intentions, but you can provide a deliverable plan.
To make deep sales, you need to keep in mind that you would like to develop a longer-term relationship--in fact, your goal is create a coalition with your client where you both move ahead together. You want to develop a win-win mindset that will facilitate deep sales--and also provide you with a continuous customer relationship that can be satisfying and profitable for both you and your client.