You Wouldn't Ask WebMD to Make a Diagnosis
Raise your hand if you’re a B2B service provider. You’re selling expertise! And since you can’t buy expertise from an e-commerce site, you need to be able to sell your expertise.
WebMD is not a Substitute for a Medical Professional and Online Solutions are not Substitutes for Expert Advice
How often does your client actually know what he needs to solve his problem? Your client may not even have diagnosed his problem correctly, let alone be aware of all the myriad ways it could be solved.
Here’s what usually happens: he does some research online, because, well, isn’t everything available online? He discovers what appears to be a solution to a problem similar to his. Yes, he can order that solution without even talking to a human being. It *may* even solve the immediate problem.
But what if the real problem was actually something else and needed to be solved in a completely different way? A solution that you, with your expertise, could see instantly? It would be like getting an over-the-counter medication to treat a rare cancer.
For B2B service providers, you’re most often providing a customized solution to your client. Yes, there are patterns to the issues your clients face, but they’re rarely identical. Sometimes, even the customization of your solution is the key to your expertise (think any creative campaign or strategy).
Order Taking vs Problem Solving
Will you sell this client the self diagnosed solution he asked for or will you sell him the solution that will actually solve his problem?
It’s the difference between selling someone a sandwich at a sandwich shop, and considering that your customer is likely having lunch, selling her a beverage and possibly a dessert for the full meal experience. Which might be what she actually needed. That’s an extremely simple example, but here’s another one that may be more relevant.
Suppose you’re a marketing communications consultant and your firm provides a full range of digital and traditional marketing solutions. A client comes to you and asks about social media management for two platforms. You could simply quote your price for writing, posting and managing two platforms, OR, you could find out more about what this client is trying to achieve. You discover that this person has been tasked with increasing leads by 45%, with subsequent sales increases of 25%. You take a quick look at her website and realize that it’s not set up to capture leads and they aren’t posting any new content regularly. What would you do?
Hint: You’d ask some more questions about budget, what else the company is expected to do this year, what this person’s specific role really entails, and then, hopefully, you’ll suggest a few options other than simply managing social media. Because you already know that the problem, and the solution, is much larger than that.
Selling by Serving Yields Greater Profits and More Repeat Business
Do you see how this is the difference between an order taker and a problem solver? The order taker provides great customer service by giving the client exactly what she has asked for. The skilled salesperson solves the bigger problem and helps the client achieve her ultimate goal.
Guess which one often results in greater profit and repeat business? In our example, above, you’ve just increased your total sale by 30%, simply by understanding your customer’s actual need. Apply this to every selling encounter and what happens to your bottom line? Not to mention the ease in which you have in retaining clients and generating great referrals.
Is it time to become a consultative salesperson?
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