Be More Than a Sales Representative to Connect to Your Customers

Customer Connection
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By , Small Business Pulse

Consumer buying habits have changed. Customers no longer find you in the yellow pages of a fat phone book. They have the technology in their pockets to quickly find and research you and your competitors online. They are numbed to hard-sell techniques and annoyed by obtrusive advertising. To generate solid leads, marketing departments need to create a strategic plan of brand development and content marketing.

Leads are passed off to sales when a prospect reaches the bottom of the marketing funnel. They may have responded to a call to action (CTA), placed a call to your company or filled out a contact form. However, what do your salespeople do with those leads? While making a sale is still the goal, the role of the sales rep has changed from that of a company-centric promoter to a consumer-friendly adviser. Keep these concepts in mind when closing in on a deal.

Focus on buyer’s needs
You may be the best in your industry. You may have established a stellar reputation over decades of doing business, but consumers don’t care about you and many are skeptical about claims in an environment where anyone can create a website full of fact-free boasts. You are not selling a product. You are selling solutions. When you follow through on leads, whether through email, snail-mail or phone, be prepared to provide solutions to customer's needs. A good marketing campaign will target pain points, which should be easily addressed when in contact with customers.

Become the go-to adviser
Your goal is to build a relationship with your prospects. To do this, you need to understand their goals and the obstacles they face attempting to reach those goals. This will put you in position to offer advice.

Three-step formula to success
1. Listen to your prospects concerns. They may be typical for the industry, but each business or individual has a unique set of circumstances that must be considered. Ask questions to encourage your prospects to elaborate with their own experiences.
2. Diagnose their problems. What is causing any issues?
3. Be an educator. It is a sales representative's duty to bring industry experience into play and explain how the company is solving problems.

Go above and beyond
Social media and online review sites have changed the marketing landscape. Consumers strongly consider online reviews when making purchasing decisions. It’s not enough to close a sale, you need your customers to spread the word. Merely meeting the terms of a deal isn’t enough. You must exceed expectations if you want to turn customers into advocates. Focus on improving consumers’ experiences by following up on sales and seeking consumer feedback quickly to resolve any problems. Throwing in a referral incentive may help build a loyal following.

To successfully navigate the new marketplace, you need a sales force that understands your company vision and the culture of your customers’ personas. Sales reps need to have listening skills and know how to build trust in an age of skepticism. Focus training on these points and you’ll be crushing those sales goals.