This is part of a package on selling to prospects. Read the other part: 4 Things Customers Don't Want to Hear.
Through the economic downturn of the past few years, organizations have become ever leaner. Employees with valuable experience have been bought off, downsized, or reassigned. This leaves a new generation of decision makers with less time, experience, and market intelligence with which to make important decisions.
What they want is for you to provide a level of insight that will make them personally and organizationally more effective. The companies and salespeople who can do this become trusted advisors--a relationship that is key to the sales process.
Want to win a buyer's attention and secure that company's business? Make sure you can talk intelligently about these five topics.
1. Market Position
Prospects often see outside salespeople as knowing a lot of information about the marketplace. The "feet on the street" perspective is seen (often correctly) as being more valuable and current than what gets generated by the company's marketing department. You, of course, need to remain discreet and maintain confidentiality. But if you can also provide the prospect with market intelligence, you gain trust as well as status.
2. What's Next?
Who doesn't want a personal fortuneteller? In the professional context, buyers are looking for people who can give them perspective on upcoming regulations, technology trends, industry mergers and acquisitions, and any other developments that affect the business.
Buyers who can teach their customer something and provide insight get more calls returned, faster responses to emails, and greater access.
3. Best Practices
The world is getting murkier. Competitors are now partners; consumer business models become commercial business models. The best and brightest change their approaches rapidly. Keep an eye out, and become a source for information about the best practices both within and outside of your prospect's industry.
4. Trends and Patterns
Start with this sentence--"In our research about your company, we have recognized a number of important patterns"--and you are virtually guaranteed to have your audience's undivided attention. Everyone wants to know how he or she (and his or her company) is looked at. By doing your homework, you can secure his or her attention with your findings--then frame your points with overall industry truths.
5. Points of Differentiation
You've probably heard this line in plenty of conversations with prospects: "Our business is different." I sometimes have a hard time keeping a straight face when I hear this, but your prospect believes it to be a deep and sacred truth. Customers want to know that you see them as different, so be sure to communicate what sets them apart.
This is not just ego stroking, by the way: To be a strategic provider to a given customer, you need to be able to express why he or she shouldn't buy from just anyone--and, in fact, that his or her unique characteristics make you a better provider, with a specialized solution.
Overall, remember that when you talk to the buyer about the buyer, you increase his or her engagement--as well as your chance of winning the business.