DISCOVER: Customer Business Issues

One day I was working in my home office and my wife was at the kitchen table deep in thought on a work project of her own. Upstairs, my daughter Anne was playing with her friend Kaitlyn making the kind of noise elementary school girls do when they are having fun. Suddenly, the noise stopped. My wife quickly looked up from her work and said, “Girls, what’s happened? Is anything wrong?” That’s intuition. A kind of instinctive reasoning honed by experience.

The first step of our model for the relationship building business-to-business telephone sales representative, is to discover openings to position their products or services as solutions. They can’t rely on their intuition and make assumptions. If they do, they may waste their time, and the customer’s time, proposing a solution of little value. Of course, the salesperson could just dial for dollars, hoping the people they call will have an order they’d like to place. But this type of salesperson will be perceived as a telemarketer, the black sheep of the family, and this approach will result in low sales and low job satisfaction, both for the selling organization and the salesperson. The telephone salesperson also needs to recognize the benefit of having the customer articulate their needs. Once a customer has talked about their needs, they are much more in the mood and motivated to do something about it. Even the experienced salesperson – who has heard it all before – must hear these needs again, both to catch the nuances shear intuition would miss, and to get the customer motivated to move forward.

A business-to-business customer will only buy from a selling organization over time if they have business issues they can solve. When I think about our client base at Business Performance Group, is it easy to see what these business issues are. We have a client that sells artificial limbs and joints, the business issue is their surgeon customers have patients whose original body parts aren’t working as well as they should. The surgeon wants an effective solution for the patient, and for their practice reduces time in the operating room, and any post-operative problems. We have another client who manufacturers forklifts, and customers buy forklifts because they need something to move materials. Because the telephone sales representatives we work with want to build relationships which generate an annuity stream of revenues over time, they must be able to uncover these business issues, and help customers understand how their solutions can help.

Business issues can be problems, opportunities or strategies. If you call a customer, they will probably tell you of any problems they are having they know you can solve, or may articulate a non-related issue hoping you can help. At one level, telephone sales is a numbers game, and if you call when a customer has a problem you can solve, you have a good chance of entering a sales cycle you can potentially close. To uncover opportunities and strategies, you’ll need