02 Feb How to Improve Your Sales Strategy by Being Helpful
If you are doing research online before making a purchase, then you know your prospective customers are doing the same thing. For better or worse, it has completely changed the way we sell.
On one hand, it can help speed the sales process because the buyer has more information. On the other, a sales rep has less control because the buyer has so much information.
Salespeople, are no longer gatekeepers. And because many buyers are making up their mind before even talking with a salesperson, we need to take extra steps to secure a sale–not by being pushy and serving our own agenda, but by being helpful and making the buyer’s success a priority.
Non-sales people have an ever more difficult task managing their sales and marketing strategy. Fortunately, we have written an eBook for non-marketers who must do it all.
Why Being Helpful is So Effective
When salespeople are helpful, it minimizes the natural resistance between a buyer and the salesperson. When a buyer looks to their sales rep as an ally and an asset, it creates a type of partnership that can weather the storms of competitors.
Like most relationships, it can take time for buyers to warm up, even to a helpful approach. Buyers are wary of being “sold to”, so the effort to be helpful must be sincere and genuine. If it is manipulative, it simply won’t be as effective.
Instead make each touchpoint, email or phone call, valuable to the prospective buyer. Don’t push anyone through a sales funnel or slide deck. The moment they feel you are wasting their time is exactly when you lose the sale.
Where to Start? Research, Listen, and Ask the Right Questions.
To be helpful, you need to learn as much as you can about the buyer, their needs, experiences, and goals. A quick search online can help you uncover basic information about the person you are talking to and their company.
Doing research shows the prospect how much you care. Most appreciate not spending time going over the basics.
If you take away one tip from this post, make it this one: When engaging with the buyer, whether over the phone, email or face-to-face, really make a point to listen to them.
Listening helps uncover their true needs and how to help them. Listening also provides an opportunity to ask appropriate follow-up questions.
Ask open ended questions to get to the root cause of the prospect’s challenges. Also, assess how they measure success and potential roadblocks that might keep the deal from moving forward.
Send Interesting or Informative Articles or Helpful Links
While you’re learning about your buyer’s industry and needs, forward what’s helpful or interesting, especially if it pertains to a recent conversation. You want to be viewed as a resource and show you are thinking about your buyer and their business.
A word of caution–don’t just start forwarding links and attachments; that’s not helpful. Make sure you read the articles yourself and provide some insight into why you thought it would be valuable to the buyer.
Keep an Eye Out for Seminars or Meetings that Address Issues of Mutual Benefit
Is your Chamber of Commerce or local Community College scheduling a business seminar your buyer could benefit from? Send them a note and a link.
If you could benefit as well, offer to attend with them. Even if they don’t take you up on your offer, it helps demonstrate your interest in building and maintaining a relationship and learning together.
Fill a Buyer’s Need
As the relationship develops with the buyer, they’ll sometimes express a need to fill a position, reduce inventory, get technical, or need marketing advice–areas that may be outside of your offerings. If you have a resource that can help, suggest it. This further cements your relationship and positions you as a trusted resource.
Let Them Know your Strengths
Don’t be afraid to let a buyer know what you are good at doing and not so good. “You know Bob, I’m really good writing powerful copy that sells. If you need some help, please feel free to let me know.” Or you may share that your company doesn’t usually deliver a service or product, and there are better providers you recommend.
Capabilities and strengths are exactly what your prospect is trying to assess in their conversations with you. Be honest about it upfront so you can close deals with people who want the best business offerings you have.
Offer to Help Them Spread Their Message
This is so easy to do; all salespeople should do it. As you learn more about your buyer’s business, you might think of other contacts who could benefit from what they offer. Be open about potential leads and offer to pass along their information or make an introduction. This also expands your resources in building a “helpful” network.
Send minutes after every meeting. Always include a review of what was talked about along with any next steps the buyer must take. Before the next meeting or call, refer to the minutes and start a conversation like this: “When we talked last time, you expressed a desire to expand your business while minimizing expenses.” This makes the buyer aware that you are listening and actually understanding their needs.
Send Helpful Reminders
Staying in contact is easier than ever with email, text, phone, etc. This makes it simple to remind buyers of any upcoming meetings, helping to avoid last-minute cancellations.
Got other ideas how sales people can be helpful? Post them in the comments section below so we can share your ideas with our readers.