There are endless blogs you can read on how to be a better salesperson. Do a quick Google search on the topic and you will find list upon list of tricks, hacks and sales “secrets” to closing deals and making millions. Sure, there is merit to some of these short cuts and quick tips; heck, we have a blog of our own sharing techniques that work for us. But if, in your limited free time, you could read one thing, we recommend seeking out reading materials on your buyer’s industry instead.
According to a CSO Insights report, just 47 percent of salespeople believe they understand the buyer’s situation before pitching a solution. This means over half of salespeople are pitching solutions to problems they don’t understand – at an industry level or a specific company situation level. How can you really understand your solution if you don’t understand the problem it is solving? Are you in this shocking majority? If so, it’s time to transition from run-of-the-mill salesperson to trusted advisor.
Know Your Customer’s Industry
A trusted advisor is a salesperson buyers want to keep around. A trusted advisor knows their buyer – their personal and professional pains. They know their industry and their business (not just the piece they are involved in) and are the first to share relevant insights and information on the industry.
So instead of getting bogged down in endless, sometimes worthless, online reading, devote a small chunk of time every morning or over every lunch break to read up on and learn more about your buyer’s industry. Become an expert and shoot to know more than they do.
Your buyer will be impressed with your insights on their current business outlook. They will be thankful when you can educate them on new challenges in their industry and likely impacts on their business. You will then be positioned to lead them to solutions (and not necessarily always yours) that will help them stay ahead and prepare for what’s to come – giving them a competitive advantage.
There is a good chance your customers could find another solution like yours and another salesperson that could lead them through a mediocre buying journey. But if you become a trusted advisor, seeking to serve your buyer before making a sale, you have the opportunity to build a long-term relationship that will bring you both success for years to come.
Jay Mitchell is president and founder of Mereo LLC, which helps industry-leading companies unleash sustainable revenue performance. He is a is a seasoned sales and marketing leader whose insights and hands on assistance have boosted revenue performance for companies like Pitney Bowes and SAP.