Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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In B2B, there is sometimes a gap between what customers want from sales reps and what sales managers wish from prospective new hires. Unfortunately, I often feel the gap is widening.
This gap is a problem since adopting a customer-first philosophy aligns with customers' wants. So in this article, I cover what I believe are the four most valuable qualities a sales rep can have in 2022.
These are the top four qualities customers want from their sales reps and how you can make sure you embody them:
I've often heard the statistic that prospects only do 25% of the talking in an average sales call. If this is accurate, is it any wonder customers are desperate to be heard? Active listening is the attribute most sought after by customers for a simple reason - they want to be understood. trait
Both customers and sales managers mention problem-solving as one of a salesperson's most important traits. Still, a sales rep must clearly understand the issue or challenge to solve a problem or suggest a relevant solution.
The way you should sell to today's customers isn't to overwhelm them with expertise. Instead, it is to listen to what they need, then convince them you can give it to them.
Active listening is a vital element of any successful sales program in the customer's current age, and it is the key to success in sales moving forward. However, it's more complex than simply hearing what someone says.
Customers and sellers agree that successful salespeople are good at solving problems. But that doesn't necessarily mean that sales managers prioritise it when hiring reps.
Too often, they're looking at the wrong problem. Sometimes, sales managers think of problem-solving as overcoming reasons the prospect isn't buying, not taking customers' issues seriously and finding a solution.
The trick to problem-solving isn't pushing away objections; it's figuring out how to show and prove that your product, solution, or service can solve the customer's challenge or need.
The first step to practical problem-solving is asking questions if you know what to do with the answers. These are not questions that you could quickly answer on your own - instead, sales reps should pose more profound questions that get to the root of what's impeding prospects and customers.
Problem-solving isn't always as straightforward as math equations. It takes knowledge, work, commitment, and practice. For that reason, your sales reps must practise problem-solving techniques.
This one might be a bit surprising. Sometimes customers mention confidence as a convincing sales rep's most important quality, while fewer sales managers mention it. It should be the other way around.
However, it makes sense in the context of the other attributes customers want to see. To a customer, confidence doesn't necessarily mean confidence in their selling abilities; it implies confidence in their ability to solve the customer's problem, need or challenge.
After listening carefully to your buyer, present your suggested solution confidently. Spell out the hows and whats behind why your product will address the buyer's problem, need or challenge. If salespeople are confident about solving problems, buyers will be convinced they can solve them.
Confidence is a skill that your sales reps need to practice.
Building a relationship isn't just critical for prospecting and closing on the sales side — it's also important to customers. To your customers, your sales reps should never be sales reps. Instead, they should be the customer's point of contact with the company, troubleshooter, and promoter. Most customers describe the sales reps they ultimately do business with as trusted advisors.
A real relationship is the foundation of trust and advocacy. You might have received different answers if you asked customers about the top qualities they valued in sales reps a few years ago. But this is a new era of selling and buying, where the customers are more empowered than ever.
Their priorities and preferences are shifting. As a seller, it's vital to adapt accordingly.
You find more articles here for more opinions and thoughts about digital sales. Alternatively, if you're interested in discovering how your sales team can adapt to the realities of today's marketplace, we have an in-depth guide to sales enablement available here. Finally, subscribe to The Onlinification Hub below for updates on other topics.
You can read this article in Swedish on Onlineguiden.