Long ago (in a galaxy far away) new sales people were told that nothing happens until somebody sells something. (Thank you Red Motley.) What does this mean and what is the meaning in today’s context?
Quite simply this means that until someone takes action to sell a solution to a (prospect’s) need, there is no communication, no interaction between the solution provider and the prospective customer. It is in the act of “selling” that communications and interaction happen.
Selling of course is different today than when this phrase was first used, and it is different for equipment, services and supplies, yet it still has relevance. It implies action. Importantly it requires a dialog between the solution provider and the prospective customer for the action (the selling) to occur. And while this dialog may take many forms, and have different formats as we move through the selling cycle, there remains this need for communication. So how do we “sell” a solution?
We sell solutions (not products, services, knowledge, etc.) by learning what the needs of the prospects are and what they value. We listen to their requirements and hear what is important to them. What is important to us is the hearing and listening, the communication between the prospect and us as sales people. We listen to understand our prospect’s values, we hear what kind of information about the solution we need to provide to them and we learn where they expect to find access to this information. Our job is to provide the appropriate solution to meet their needs when and where the prospect expects to find it – and for this we need a dialog.
So how do we build a dialog with our customers in life science research today? Our customers are highly educated, extremely busy and they have to make complex decisions about their research purchases, while minimizing their risk of failure.
Often the first step in creating a dialog is through a website or emailer. Our prospective customer visits a website and gains a bit of information about our solution. This begins the process of building engagement with the prospect by adding value to their visit. Perhaps they will download a whitepaper with a success story for later review.
Assuming we were able to obtain a minimal amount of contact information from their visit to the website, we can continue the process of engagement, building the dialog through emailers, or possibly a webinar. This continues the selling process and can move them into the lead category.
At this point they may be prepared for continuing the dialog with applications staff or with inside sales. They will continue to add value by providing more detail, or in-depth analysis of the solution offering.
Finally, when the prospective customer is ready (and not before) they will become a sales opportunity. It is time for the sales person to continue the dialog and build the relationship with the prospect. The sales person will engage the prospect so that they will learn how the solution is customized to meet their specific needs, or what financing options are available, or assist them in selecting the best format for their solution. Most importantly, the sales person will gain an understanding of the information the prospect needs about the solution, the value that the prospect expects to get from the solution and how they want to access this information. All of this comes from maintaining the dialog with the prospective customer, and it is how to sell something.
So remember to make something happen!