Sell Profit, not Products!
Your customer is not interested in your products and services at all! He buys from you, because he wants to solve his problems and reach his targets. That may sound provoking, however, the customer is always focused on his own benefit. To him, your products and services are the vehicles which provide this benefit.
At the end of the day, ´customer benefit´ means ´profit´. The latter can be influenced by 2 levers - cost reduction and/or turnover increase. That´s why your sales argumentation should always focus on these 2 levers, either directly or indirectly.
To be successful here, sellers must be able to put themselves in their customer´s shoes and to understand his situation. That means, they should know the customer´s objectives and understand his business. On that basis, they can develop solutions which help him to optimize his operations, reach his targets and, finally, to increase his profits.
Bearings producer SKF practices this benefit-oriented solution selling approach consistently. On its website, the company doesn´t describe any products, but lists the following customer benefits:
- Enhance your productivity
- Accelerate the time-to-market for your products
- Improve your energy efficiency
- Decrease your maintenance cost
- Optimize your product design
Basically, SKF´s approach can be applied to all B-to-B businesses which increase their customers´ success with their products and services.
The Benefit- and Solution-based Sales Approach involves 4 Steps:
Analyze the Customer´s Business
Prior to visiting the customer, sellers should familiarize themselves with the company. This can be done by researching its website, visiting fairs, analyzing sales literature, etc. The knowledge thus gained provides the basis for the subsequent personal meeting.
Identify or create Customer Needs
During the customer visit, the seller´s focus should be on ´listening´, not on ´talking´ as he can only deepen his knowledge of the customer´s business and identify his needs by listening actively and asking the right questions. Experienced account managers are not content with what the customer tells them. Rather, they show him opportunities he didn´t think of. Thus they create a new need, which they satisfy with the solution they provide.
Develop a Solution
In the next step, the seller develops the solution and presents it to his partners on the customer side. Frequently, the solution is developed in conjunction with the customer to meet his highly specific requirements.
After the purchase, it is crucial to maintain the relationship with the customer to ensure that the targeted performance increase is achieved: Is the customer fully satisfied? Does the solution help him to reach his goals? Are there other possible areas for improvement?
Where do you stand with your business? Can you strengthen your competitive position by focusing more on the customer´s benefit than on your products´ features? What are the steps to make the transition?