Selling a complex product can make it a challenge for a sales team to hit targets. Top line numbers can stretch into the distance and sales cycles can get longer as salespeople struggle to sell the value of the product to potential clients.
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In any consultative selling process, a sales rep needs to present themselves as trusted business advisors. Picking up the phone or turning up to a meeting and pitching won’t get you as far when the product/service is complex.
Listening and asking the right questions are the most valuable skills in consultative selling. It is a strategy that focuses on putting the buyers needs first. But it shouldn’t consign your sales team to months of waiting, chasing and deals that seem to take forever. Here are a few ways you can shorten the sales cycle when a product takes more explaining.
#1: Research before calls and meetings
Before calls or meetings progress too far, your sales reps should know as much as they can about a prospect. Use this research to establish wants and needs. Get an understanding of the market, competition, challenges, and any angle that can be used to assess how to align the product with their needs.
If you can, use quick screen sharing calls to find out more.
When talking to more than one person within a prospect (e.g. a decision maker and influencer), gather information through informal chats and online research. Ask your network too. A free screen sharing tool is a great way to do that, giving you the opportunity to demo a feature and find out more for your next call or meeting with a decision maker.
#2: Ask open-ended questions
A list of questions is always useful, especially if you are trying to qualify a lead.
But what if this is a complex and protracted sale? You’ve already established they’re a viable lead - now what?
With open-ended questions, you can find out more information. Get more in-depth. And get a clearer idea what the pain points are and how solve those problems for a potential client. During these conversations, a prospect might mention new challenges that were outside the scope of expectations. Can you offer a solution to these too? If not, can you refer them to a company that can help?
It is a strong sign of trust when you have a meeting looking to solve one problem, only to find you can help them with another.
#3: Actually listen
Conversations should be a two-way street. Instead, too many sales professionals are only half listening, eager to jump into what they want to say next.
Whether you’re meeting in-person, on the phone, or using a screen share to demo a product, use the open-ended questions approach to find out how to make the sale. Now you know what the problem is, provide a solution. It might mean only certain features of your product are useful. Or they need the product plus other services/features.
It might mean you need to go away and come back with a more detailed proposal. That is fine. Set expectations and be clear on next steps. The worst thing you can do, at this stage, is to roll off a list of features and benefits and hope for the sale. Armed with the problem, a potential client wants you to come back with a solution that makes the benefits obvious - because you’ve solved a problem they were having.
As sales reps or account executives, we can’t control the prospects end of the sales cycle. We can do as much as we can, but we can’t control internal processes, needs and budgetary pressures. So controlling what we can means providing the best solutions to those we are talking to. That means, researching, asking the right questions and listening.
With the information gathered from research, calls, screen sharing sessions and meetings, you can present a comprehensive solution that simplifies your product. It doesn’t matter if you are selling something with dozens of features and use-cases: all your prospect wants to know is, how does it solve their challenges?
Once you can answer that, the sales cycle should get shorter and easier.