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Sales and Marketing Performance Blog
Nothing short of excellence is required in handling this question - but before you can answer it, you need to reverse it to figure out where the buyer is coming from.
Buyers often ask surface-structure questions, which conceal their underlying concerns either consciously or unconsciously and if we don't reverse them, they often reappear later in the sale as objections. The following Flash illustration is excerpted from the Advanced Marketing Concepts, Selling in the Internet Age eLearning course and may take a few seconds to load.
Reversing is a linguistic concept and one of the most important concepts for sales, marketing and customer-facing support people to master. Anyone familiar with the Sandler selling method will be very familiar with reversing.
Reversing enables us to understand the buyer's context or underlying reason for their question prior to giving an answer by simply answering their question with a question.
We are trained in school and by our parents to answer whatever question we are asked to the best of our ability, unfortunately in sales and in customer-facing support roles, this can create many difficulties, unless we understand the context of the buyer’s question.
In customer-facing roles, whether in sales, marketing or technical support, the most important question you will ever ask is the one you ask to reverse a prospects question...same applies for managers and executives.
Marketers and sellers on Webinars please take note: Reversing is critical when handling Q&A in front of an audience or in a live Webinar…we have all witnessed sales, marketing and technical people digging holes for themselves in front of large groups by answering what they thought was the buyers question; - only to get completely sidetracked and potentially irritating the buyer, certainly wasting valuable audience time.
Reversing is a Salescraft skill and like most valuable sales skills it takes deliberate practice to master. We need to get into the habit of reversing around the office and with our loved ones until it becomes ingrained.
There is probably no other language technique that will provide such a dividend as reversing. Simple to learn, but needs practice - please take the time and effort to master this discipline.
This is the second part of an article Are Sales People needed in Selling SaaS solutions written in response to conversations with three entrepreneurs who have created, or are creating SaaS solutions to serve very specific needs for a well-defined market opportunity. In conversation it emerged that none of them were planning on having any sales people in their business.
The thinking here is that since the products are so strong and the market need exists, by offering a free trial, the prospect will learn to use and love the product and convert into a customer; all without needing a human touch. Who needs sales people anyway?
This approach is similar to the "Field of Dreams" (if you build it, they will come) strategy; popular with entrepreneurs who are long on product engineering skills but underestimate the importance of marketing and selling in the lifecycle of successful products. This attitude has led to the premature death of many killer-products.
Now let me say here that I would not advocate putting a salesperson in the way of a buyer who was motivated to buy and did not require interaction with a salesperson. Dell recognized this desire early on and enabled people to self-serve PC’s and Laptops nearly ten years ago and cut billions out of their cost of sale. Dell had a couple of things going for it that early stage SaaS companies don’t; - brand equity and market dominance in a mature buying category.
Killer-products, and especially software products don’t sell themselves unless they fulfill the following criteria
- A mature, clearly defined buying category exists,
- Market demand exists for the products/services,
- Acquisition is as simple as buying a book on Amazon,
- Implementing the products is seen as risk-free and the vendor is trusted,
- The products are easy to use, learn and deploy,
- The buyer knows what they want and it's really a matter of what color and how many.
- The market price is established and the vendor offerings are within an acceptable range.