Many people fail to hit their sales targets because they just don’t know what they are selling. Yeah, they know the product or service and can articulate the features but that will almost always miss the mark.
The good account managers don’t focus on features or a laundry list of benefits because they know that will get them nowhere—especially with a reluctant prospect. Here are 4 things that strategic account managers can do to hit the mark with prospects.
1. Know how your product or service can help your prospect solve problems that are top of mind and direct your value proposition squarely at those problems. This requires some work to really understand what they are struggling with. Start with any public information available (if your prospect is private, check out the public information for its competitors). One of my favorite documents to study after the Form 10-K and the Proxy Statement is their Analyst Day slide deck. Great stuff about strategy and execution from their top leaders.
2. Know what’s important to your buyer and leverage your strengths. What makes your best customers stick with you? Is it your product? Or maybe it’s something else about the experience they encounter when doing business with you. You need to know—from the perspective of your customers—and really push those areas where you excel. Don't guess about this. Chances are you will be wrong. Ask your customers.
3. Know who you are competing against and sell accordingly. Unless you are different from all the other companies out there (you aren’t), you stack up a little differently against each of your competitors. The best way to understand these performance differences is by asking your customers. If your company has a customer listening function, see what’s available. If competitive information is not available, start demanding it.
4. Know when to stop talking and do it. Sometimes we just talk and talk, telling our prospect about every benefit they could ever hope to get from our product. Problem is, they don’t care about almost everything we just told them. Be focused. If you have done your homework and know what matters the most to them, focus on that and leave the rest for later. Sift through all the benefits of your product or service to arrive at those that give you the best chance to win.
Think of three seines with different size openings. The first seine allows through any benefits that help them solve their problems. The second seine allows through any of those making it through the first net that are actually seen as important to your customers. And the third seine is different for each competitor…of those making it through the first 2 seines, which make us a better choice than Competitor A?
This filtering system should allow you to focus on the very few items that will increase your odds of winning by knowing exactly what you are selling.