Innovation demands innovative sales

By Jeff Bowman

The world of professional sales has taken many turns in the last 25 years.  We have moved from traditional sales methods – pushing whatever product or service you have to move or clear using a variety of tactics – to a more customer centric needs-based approach. The term has been coined “the soft sell”.  The focus is on achieving the desired solution for the customer’s needs through a series of questions and targeted probes as opposed to offering deals, freebies, layaway plans and clearance offers.

Selling is a profession, and like other professions, it has a set of required skills and competencies, which when utilized well, produce successful results.

Retro TV CommercialEntrepreneurs and business people need to understand that above all else they are salespeople first.  There is no difference between common commodities or highly innovative products.  A sale must be made in order to start the ball rolling.

Stephen Rhodes mentioned the Dragon’s Den in an earlier blog.  A sales pitch based on razzle dazzle usually fizzles in the Dragon’s Eyes. They need to see potential; they want to be able to visualize what needs will be satisfied and how flexible the product is to a variety of applications.

An innovative approach to sales requires that the salesperson knows their product inside out, has identified its purpose and has crafted a unique selling proposition that focuses on satisfying the needs of a client.

A sales presentation to the people who make decisions is critical, although many of us spend countless hours speaking to people in organizations who don’t have that power. Open probes allow the potential customer to express what it is that they require and we need to recognize the opportunities as they arise to dig deeper.

Innovative products require a more tailored approach, more subtle, in order to have the potential customer or investor accept you as a solution provider/problem solver as opposed to a product pusher.

There is no such thing as a born salesman, just those professionals who recognize the importance of assisting a prospect through the sales cycle, on their own terms and in their own time.  Think of the sales process as a fact-finding mission.  The very things that lead entrepreneurs to explore and develop innovative products and services will often hold as much value in a prospect’s mind as they did in the creator’s. Use the research to identify needs whether they are safety needs, financial needs, green initiatives etc. to mold your approach to selling.

Sales effectiveness is measured in output versus outcome, and it is easy to tip the scales.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Innovation demands innovative sales

  1. Hmmmmm, there may not be any born salesmans, but I do think that they’re certain individuals (whether they are in the business of selling or not) who were born to be able to get the things that they want! I sometimes think that it is the knowing when to use your god given talent that is the key. I know many people who bulldoze their way into getting things and people to do what they want, without a huge amount of success, in fact they actually end up getting people upset with them. I am of the opinion that most people can be led into doing what you want, usually with very little effort on my part. So I guess the point of my comment is that…. I beg to differ with you, there is indeed a salesman born every minute, or at least once a week!

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