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Sales Strategy
Feb 21, 2013 | The Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

The internet has leveled the playing field for buyers and sellers in terms of information access. Selling to customers who are incredibly informed shifts the sales dynamic from one of authority to a new type of engagement.

You can probably assume that your prospective customers are now industry experts, who have researched and understand the many solutions available for their needs. So how can salespeople stay relevant and valuable to prospects despite this heightened access to information? Here are some points to focus on in your sales approach to help you become more effective with your know-it-all prospects:

1) Don’t be an information snob. Focus on collaborating with your prospect.

If your customer already has all the information they need about your product and industry, then it can be challenging to get them to see the value in speaking with you.  Instead of offering them the same information that they can easily get online, try creating an atmosphere of collaboration around the information that they already know. This requires effective listening, questioning, and consultative skills in order to identify the customer’s core concerns, and perhaps point out creative solutions that they never knew existed. For example, a salesperson selling IT products can complement the customer on their knowledge and open up the conversation to specific constraints of their environment. Through discussion of the knowledge that the customer has acquired already, you can identify gaps, misunderstandings, concerns, and still demonstrate your expertise and consultative role.

2) Start curating information for your own content library and use within the sales process.

Just because information is available does not mean that the customer is looking at the right content. We rely heavily on Google or Yelp! because they are portals that curate the vast amount of information into specific queries. Your familiarity with your sales offering and industry positions you well to act much like a concierge or a gateway to relevant external and internal knowledge. When you help to bring such relevant information together quickly and conveniently, the customer will feel more focused and will be better able to make the buying decision at hand.

Curating relevant industry and product information is so valuable because you organize the information and present it within your sales process for easy consumption. You can start to compile such information internally in the form of key articles, tip sheets that link to content on the web and commentary that reinforces the background information, blog posts, and video interviews with past customers. You can tailor the content in your virtual library to specific buying decisions and concerns. Your customer will find value in the forethought and expertise you are injecting into their research process.

3)  Customize your solution-selling pitch: Present specific applications for the customer’s use.

Many customers are looking to take general solutions and apply it to their specific environment and needs. While the customer may appreciate knowing that you’ve worked with many other customers, what they really want is a demonstration that you can do something to fit their unique needs.

The key is to provide context around the information that the customer has uncovered themselves so they understand how it will be applied to their scenario. Try sending them some case studies of companies that are similar to theirs. Discuss key goals and measures of success that you expect they will see as a result of your product. Your value is underscored by your ability to drive a fit that is customized and precise. This kind of information comes from your own expertise of how to solve problems specifically and builds immense trust for the customer.

4) Create E-Learning Systems.

If your customers are industry experts and value knowledge, then providing online courses that explain how your industry works and concepts that expand the buyer’s perspective establish your helpfulness and expertise. An e-learning system that delivers multimedia content via written, audio, video, and web presentations helps further knowledge acquisition for your buyers.

Content can be created by experts within your company as well as by established outside experts who can be invited in for interviews and classroom-style teaching in exchange for payment, recognition, or some other form of compensation. Create a process for secure access to select customers to this area and exchange value by getting commitments such as a meeting or a higher level next step for system access.

5) Address frequently-asked questions in a weekly webinar or podcast.

Even with vast information at their fingertips, highly-informed customers will have information gaps that you can easily fill. Keep track of the kinds of inquiries you are getting from clients and prospects. What are the most frequent misconceptions? How can they get the most out of the product? How can they tailor the product for their particular business needs? Put together the answers to the most frequently-asked questions in a way that is conveniently accessible and engaging for your audience. Consider a simple but regular podcast or webinar. With a little bit of effort, you can enrich your customers’ understanding of your services, products, and the industry at large.

Take it to the next level. You have the opportunity to establish your leadership and credibility by leading discussions and providing more specialized pieces of knowledge. If you are conducting the webinars live, don’t forget to record the sessions and make them available to future prospects on demand. These will become an invaluable addition to your resource library.

Your expertise is still needed.

There may be more information available than ever before. This does not mean you are not valuable as a sales professional. Your value has to be elevated to the role of an expert, curator, and facilitator. You still have more insider knowledge about your industry than your customers. By packaging and organizing platforms for sharing this knowledge, you will help augment your highly-informed customers and build rapport. Take it as a challenge. The knowledge game in selling is an opportunity to differentiate yourself as a resource to customers that crave information. Be that person who meets their need.

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Copyright ©2013 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association
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