“Sign this contract RIGHT now!”
“You need this product more than you need AIR!”
“Buy. Buy. Buy. Buy. Buy!!!!”
That’s how many sales professionals come off when they’re talking to prospects.
Sure, coffee’s for closers, but going in for the close immediately is a one-way ticket to getting a cup filled with nothing but grinds. But maybe that’s your style. Maybe you’ve embraced this hard-hitting, sell-sell-sell, buy-buy-buy, take-take-take mentality and have had some success with it—I don’t know.
But I do know that more and more sales professionals are taking a more strategic approach. Why?
Because it works.
The best sales professionals recognize that in the world of inside sales, you need to establish rapport and gain the trust of your prospects in order to close. You’re no longer just competing with your direct competition for your prospects’ attention. You’re competing with email newsletters, social media ads, white papers, blog posts and more.
To close a deal, you need to embrace a more strategic method, a method that can be leveraged consistently to get your foot in the door and showcase the true potential of what you have to offer. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you three of the most popular methods that inside sales professionals are leveraging to do exactly that.
1. The consultative selling method
Consultative selling is one of the most popular sales methods used for inside sales. The term was coined in the early 1970s and is often misunderstood amongst sales professionals. The RAIN Sales Training Group describes consultative selling as an approach to sales whereby sellers maximize value through:
- A mix of understanding, shaping, and redefining need; crafting compelling solutions to address the need; and communicating maximum impact for the buyer (core consultative selling).
- Inspiring buyers and driving change with ideas that matter (advanced consultative/insight selling).
At its core, consultative selling is built on gathering deep insight about a lead, using it to gain an understanding of their needs, and delivering a message that resonates with the prospect so that they want to take your sales call or buy what you’re selling.
The first step when leveraging the consultative selling method is conducting research and gathering data about the prospect. You’re looking for information that will help you open a conversation with your prospect and begin to understand their needs. Whether it's reviewing LinkedIn connections or the strategic goals established by the company, you want to gain enough information that you can anticipate and develop questions prior to contacting them.
Once you are comfortable with your research, it’s time to craft a compelling story that will resonate with your contact. Reach out with this compelling message and initiate a dialogue where the prospect does all the talking and you do all the listening. Your goal here is to understand their needs and pain points so well that you can craft a message about your product or service that lines up directly with these issues. Keep in mind, you’re not selling features—you’re selling benefits [Tweet this!].
After listening to the prospect’s needs and crafting a compelling story, it’s time to close the deal. It shouldn’t be challenging to close the deal after taking these steps because you’ve qualified your lead, painted a clear need-solution picture, and established a strong relationship by adding value before they spend a cent.
2. The empathetic yet strong parent method
Let’s say you’re a parent.
What would you do if you walked into your bedroom and saw your child doing this:
I sure hope you wouldn’t start with the consultative method. Because in this scenario, there’s no time for “I really think you should consider the different things you could chew on right now instead of this cord.”
No, in this scenario, you need to be empathetic yet firm. You need to quickly take action by removing the cable from your child’s mouth (whether they like it or not) and explaining why it was a bad decision.
Just as parents know best, it’s your job to establish yourself as an authority in your domain. If you notice that a client is using something that isn’t going to help them achieve their goals, be empathetic but firm in explaining why. The same way a child trusts a great parent, a prospect trusts a great salesperson.
This method of sales takes the management practice of Radical Candor and places it into a sales environment. During a CEO Summit, Kim Scott talked about the role that Radical Candor played in helping her achieve success while working at Google.
Kim Scott broke down this idea into a simple framework:
The vertical axis is a measure of “caring personally” and the horizontal axis is a measure of “challenging directly.” When using this model in sales, you want to take a stance that falls in the upper right quadrant—strong caring and strong challenging.
You want the prospect to know that you care about their personal success. You do this through the various interactions that lead up to the moment in which you deliver a message with Radical Candor. The follow-up is where winning really happens. It could be adding value by sharing valuable content and letting them know about a product update that helps them accomplish their goals better. Or it could be as simple as sending them a sales email that keeps you on top of their mind and puts a smile on their face.
The horizontal axis is all about challenging your prospect to think differently. If they’re doing something that could reduce their chances of success, address it. View this moment as a chance to help them, a chance to earn their trust, and most important, a chance to showcase why working with you is one of the best things they can do.
3. The competition comparison method
Think about your biggest competition.
It could be competition in the form of a sales colleague who is trying to beat you in reaching a quota. It could be competition in the form of another company that is selling something the industry would compare to your offering.
What if I told you that you could get an advantage over both of them? What if I told you they knew something you don’t? Wouldn’t you be interested in learning more?
That’s why the competition comparison sales method works so well in getting your foot in the door with a prospect. The competition comparison sales method is the tactic of getting a prospect’s attention by leveraging insights about their competition. You don’t even have to be working with their competitors. But the potential buyer needs to be aware that their competitors could very easily gain a competitive advantage by investing in a service or product like yours—if they haven’t already.
Here are a few different ways to frame the conversation when taking this approach:
- Your competition is currently doing X to solve a specific pain point. From what we can see, you’re not doing anything in that direction.
- We’re working with companies like your competition and helping them solve a specific pain point.
- This solution is something that companies like your competition are very interested in to solve a specific/common pain point.
And that’s just a start!
At the end of the day, no one wants to be left behind by their competition. The competition comparison method is a great approach for capitalizing on this reality to establish and close deals.
Here’s your next step
Are you ready to take one of these inside sales methods and try it in the field?
If so, I want you to start this process by investing some time in research. Across all three of these methods, research is where you need to start to make them work. There are plenty of great prospecting tools sales reps can use to gain this insight.
Spend time understanding your current prospects’ needs, their competition and the things they might be doing that require empathetic but authoritative intervention. Once you’ve unlocked these insights, use them to open the door and close the deal.
Have you used any of these methods in the past? Do you have any go-to approaches that you’ve leveraged successfully? I’d love to hear from you! It’s always great to learn how other sales professionals are getting it done in the field.
Ready to become an inside sales pro? In my free Startup Sales Success Course, you'll learn sales advice and strategies you can immediately put into action to win deals. Click below to get started.
Inside Sales: What it is, why it matters, and how to do it right
Inside sales is booming, and it'll only keep growing in the years ahead. Learn more about what inside sales is and how to drive more revenue in 2017.
Wolf or lamb in SaaS sales?
A lot of people who are just getting started in sales mistakenly do it wrong. Either they sell like The Wolf of Wallstreet by being overaggressive or sell like a lamb by being docile and weak. Here's how to avoid either approach.
How to sell to "nonbelievers": Turn doubt into trust
You can't sell without trust. Here's how to instill trust and a desire to buy into nonbelievers and people who have doubts and fears about buying your product.