Here are a few numbers for you: most AV customers looking to make business-related purchases today are almost 60 percent between due diligence and their purchase decisions before they engage a salesperson and more than half of what drives customer loyalty is related to the sales experience.
It’s hard to believe those numbers can co-exist, says Tether chief product and research officer Matt Dixon, but it also seems counter-intuitive that the seller who likes to challenge customers and prospects would have the most success when the sales become the most complex, but both are true.
“What you sell matters but it isn’t going to win the deal,” Dixon said in his opening keynote at the 2018 AVIXA AV Executive Conference in Tampa Bay, Fla.
“What wins the deal is the quality of the sales experience. AV customers see very little difference in what you sell. The difference comes in how you sell it.”
Most customers hate the “show-up-and-throw-up” sales approach that sees salespeople talking about all the great things their company has done and can do, says Dixon. What’s interesting is, despite conventional wisdom, customers also loathe when salespeople ask open-ended questions about what “keeps you up at night,” he says.
“It’s up to you to bring a new insight to the table,” says Dixon. “Tell them what should keep them up at night.”
‘Challenger’ Beats ‘Problem Solver’ in Complex Sales
While you might think a problem-solver would be the most successful type of seller, that’s especially untrue when the deals get particularly complicated, says Dixon. Challenger sellers bring a different world view and love to debate and push AV customers to think differently. They also close big deals most frequently, he says.
Challengers build constructive tension rather than reducing tension like problem solvers. A challenger teaches the customer something new, tailors the message for different buyers and asserts control of the situation. The relationship-builder gets along with everyone, is likeable and is generous with his time.
“The currency of the relationship today is insight,” says Dixon.
“The challenger helps customers think in new ways. Selling solutions is about selling change to customers.” Challengers make about 54 percent of high-complexity sales, as compared to about 4 percent for relationship builders.
When selling to AV customers, don’t talk about being “world-class” or other such empty phrases, says Dixon. Frame the sales pitch around concrete ways you can help the customer reach his or her goals for the business.
That means leading the customers to your strengths, challenging their assumptions, catalyzing action by stressing the urgency involved and the Return On Pain Eliminated (ROPE) calculator, and scale across customers.
To achieve this, start with a warmer that clearly demonstrates how you’ve helped AV customers like the one you’re trying to sell to, reframe the conversation to focus specifically on them, enable rational drowning by giving them facts they can’t ignore, present an emotional impact, outline a new way of doing business and closing by sharing “our solution.”
The most effective way to sell this way is starting with the solution then thinking about how to reframe the argument, says Dixon.