Providing value to prospects during the sales process comes down to a few key qualities: curiosity, preparation, expertise, and transparency. Here’s how to cultivate these skills and demonstrate your value so you can close the deal today and build a lasting relationship that benefits both you and your clients.
1. Be curious.
Curiosity enables you to ask the right questions so you can really understand your prospect’s objectives, the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving those objectives, and how your product or service might help them advance their objectives. This means you need to be equally curious about your business and your prospect’s business. It’s not enough to be an expert in what you sell. You need to also be well-versed in the nature of your prospect’s business — Who are their target customers? With whom do they compete? How does your prospect’s position in the market differ from competitors? Work to understand their business objectives, the challenges they currently have in achieving their goals, the gaps in their current tech or marketing stack, and where your company could fit in to help advance the prospect’s goals. When you come to a conversation armed with this sort of background knowledge, you are much better prepared to demonstrate how your product or service will add value to your prospect.
2. Be prepared.
Adding value ultimately means using a prospect’s time effectively. When you’re going into a conversation with a prospect, you need to show that you’ve prepared and that you’re worth the time. At minimum, this means having the curiosity to do the necessary homework to understand your prospect. It also means being prepared to use the time you have with your prospect effectively. Know what you want to get out of the conversation and what questions you need to have answered. Don’t waste time on things that aren’t relevant. We’ve all had calls where we’ve spent the first 15 minutes talking about the weather or what you did on the weekend. Although building rapport is important, small-talk during a meeting is not the best way to do this and undermines your position as a trusted consultant and partner.
To demonstrate your preparation and consideration for your prospect’s time, open up the conversation by talking about your client’s most-relevant issues and use that as an opportunity to introduce your product or service as a potential solution to those issues. This demonstrates to your client that you are focused on advancing their objectives, not simply closing the sale.
You can also show your preparation during the follow-up to a conversation. A personalized follow-up is a great way to demonstrate that the prospect wasn’t just another call on your calendar that day. At NextRoll, we use a great program called Thnks which allows us to personalize gifts. Obviously, there’s a time and a place for that and you don’t want to send random gifts all the time. But it will make you stand out if you can be appropriately personal and relevant.
3. Be an expert.
You need to be an expert in what you’re selling. This includes knowing your company’s product inside-and-out, knowing your industry and competitors so you can effectively differentiate your product, knowing your prospect’s clients and competitors, and understanding the role of whomever you’re meeting with. This allows you to bring in the broader context while still being able to answer your prospect’s technical questions and better prepares you for any objections or concerns your prospect may have.
To develop expertise, use your time smartly. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to read absolutely everything. Find material that is relevant to prospects and set a goal of reading a couple of articles (or other pieces of content) every week. Focus on what interests you most and what is going to be interesting to your target customer. Follow your curiosity!
Prove your expertise by catering your pitch to the audience. The CEO probably doesn’t care about how easy the product is to use, but someone else in the organization may care a great deal about that. Do your due diligence and think about what’s likely to be most important to the individuals you are talking to and focus on these aspects in your pitch.
4. Be transparent.
From the very beginning, clearly establish your expectations. It is totally okay to walk away from a deal if the fit isn’t there. Part of adding value is understanding why your solution isn’t the right fit for every potential customer’s needs and being transparent with prospects when your product or service is not the right one given their objectives. If you walk away from a potential deal, be very clear with your prospect about why you’re walking away. Were you unable to meet expectations? Was it their budget or their goal? Demonstrate to them that you’re walking away because that’s the best decision for them. This sort of transparency builds trust that can result in sales or referrals down the line.
These four principles could be summarized as adopting a client-centric approach to conversations with prospects — Focus less on driving your objective (closing the sale) and more on understanding and advancing your prospect’s objectives. The sales will follow naturally from the partnership you develop with your prospect when you provide value.
Caroline French is the Director of Mid Market Sales, North America at Nextroll. Nextroll is a marketing and data technology company headquartered in San Francisco with a mission to accelerate growth for companies, big and small. Previously she was Head of Mid Market Sales, North America at Nextroll.