- It’s Not What You Sell, It’s How You Sell It
- Why Being Responsive is Faster Than Being First to Respond
- How To Instill A Culture Of Absolute Responsiveness In Your Selling
- Why Are Responsiveness And Creating Value Important? 2 Reasons
- The 4 Simple Rules To Absolute Customer Responsiveness
- A Final Quick Story
It’s Not What You Sell, It’s How You Sell It.
Responsiveness—n., the quality of quickly and effectively reacting to challenges and changing conditions; an essential element in any successful sales effort.
Unfortunately, most companies and sales people don’t realize that their sales success hinges on this very element: responsiveness. In today’s rapidly evolving markets, both for products and services, companies must quickly learn new ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
It’s not about what you sell, but how you sell in order to create value, develop credibility and build trust with your prospects, while differentiating yourself from the competition and winning more orders in less time.
The key to this sales-based differentiation is to incorporate absolute responsiveness into every step of your selling process.
Absolute responsiveness in selling is composed of two specific components that marry to produce improved sales results and satisfied customers.
Responsiveness = Information Content + Speed
This formula for responsiveness gives you the means to provide your prospect or customer with the complete information they need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible.
It is not enough to just be fast. Providing an incomplete answer to a prospect’s question is the same as not responding at all. Your prospect can’t move forward in their buying cycle with incomplete information.
Similarly, it is not enough to be thorough and slow. A complete answer to a customer’s question that is provided too slowly means that you are wasting the customer’s time, creating a bad perception of your responsiveness and leaving yourself exposed to a competitor.
To break these concepts down a bit, “information content” is composed of two parts.
The first part is precisely that data or information that will completely answer your prospect’s questions and enable them to progress to the next step in their buying process.
For example, offering a complete, concise answer to an initial prospect inquiry is the essential first step in the fundamental chain of being responsive.
The second part of “information content” is the contextual data and information prospects and customers need that will help create the overall context for the decision they have to make.
For instance, an informed buyer may need to know where technology is evolving in your product segment, not only for your company but also your competitors.
They may need to know what their competitors have done or are doing with similar products.
They may need to have a more complete understanding of what products will be coming to market in the near future that could impact their competitive position if adopted by a competitor first.
Speed, obviously, is the time it takes to provide the required answers to the customer. Using the same logic as with information content, if your prospect or customer has a question, it needs to be answered in Zero-Time.
Why is responsiveness important?
Chances are good that you sell in a market where product differentiation is expensive and difficult to maintain. Innovative products and services are quickly copied and commoditized in a rush to market by a myriad of competitors.
If the product(s) you sell, and all your competitors sell, are largely the same in the eyes of your prospects, how do you stand out? How can you reliably distinguish yourself from everybody else?
As an absolutely responsive seller you will demonstrate to your customer that the experience of working with you and your company is different from the others, and in the process, develop a level of credibility and trust that will result in winning orders.
Responsiveness is also essential to achieving and maintaining customer satisfaction and generating repeat orders from your customers.
A customer request for support after an order is nothing more than a question that needs to be answered in Zero-time; it should treated the same as a prospect request for information during pre-sale.
Being absolutely responsive to your existing customers is the simplest way to guarantee repeat orders and protect your customer base from the competition.
In today’s marketplace, it’s not “what” you sell; it’s “how” you sell. Responsiveness is the essential answer to the question “how.”
Why Being Responsive is Faster Than Being First to Respond
You may think that I am just playing with words here. But carefully read on and you will find that the power of this statement lies in its execution, not its elocution.
What does it mean to be responsive? First, I will tell what it doesn’t mean. “Responsive” doesn’t mean fast.
Responsiveness in selling has two inseparable elements: information content and speed. Take away one element and you are no longer responsive.
Imagine that responsiveness is a molecule like H20 composed of two elements; hydrogen and oxygen. Take away the H2 (two hydrogen atoms) and you just have O (oxygen.) That’s great for breathing but it’s not much use in the thirst quenching category.
Similarly, if you are fast to respond to your prospects, but cannot give them the data and information they need to move forward in their buying process, then you are not being responsive. Being fast is good for gold medals but in the absence of content speed is not a virtue in sales.
Your responsiveness, or lack thereof, is your prospect’s first experience with your company. The initial interaction you have with a prospect or customer is judged to be a win or a loss. What do you want the prospect’s first perception of you, your product and your company to be?
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?Christopher Marlowe
Contempt is as frequently produced at first sight as love.Herman Melville
Responsiveness is an absolute value. You either are or your aren’t. You can’t be partially responsive. Customers are acutely aware of responsiveness in sales.
Unfortunately they aren’t on the receiving end of it very often. But, what happens to your sales results (and, conversely, those of your poor competitors) when you condition your prospects and customers to expect complete responsiveness from sellers?
We generally make up our minds beforehand to the sort of person we should like…;—and when we meet with a complete example of the qualities we admire, the bargain is soon struck.William Hazlitt
For a seller, responsiveness becomes a key competitive advantage in a commodity oriented world.
Customers witness from the first sales call the experience of working with your company. Help your customer complete their buying cycle sooner and they will begin to expect this level of responsiveness from all companies. The competitors that don’t measure up will find themselves at a distinct disadvantage.
How Can You Instill A Culture Of Absolute Responsiveness In Your Selling?
1. Make it a priority.
Everyone who engages with the customer has to be trained on the importance of providing the higher level of sales service and responsiveness that compress the customer’s buying cycle.
2. Create metrics for your key sales processes.
You have to measure responsiveness in your selling. If you aren’t measuring it, it isn’t happening.
Start with the simple sales processes first.
For instance, how long should it take to respond to an individual sales lead? How long should it take to follow up 100% of your sales leads? You can’t be responsive if you aren’t following up all of your leads.
3. Sell with the Sharp End of the Stick.
This means to put your people with the deepest product knowledge closest to the point of attack; closest to the customer. A customer’s buying process is a search for information to help them make a purchase decision. If your front line sales people can more quickly provide the answers the prospect requires, then your responsiveness will skyrocket.
4. Map your content to the prospect’s buying process.
Unless you are selling a brand new product, you should know what content the prospect requires at each stage of their buying cycle to move forward to the next stage. This content has to be in a form that is quickly and easily shared with your prospects.
5. Manage to the metrics.
The metrics, and the individual performances against them, have to be reviewed daily. Your CRM system is a perfect tool for tracking and managing responsiveness.
There is an epidemic of poor responsiveness in sales. Some of it is laziness. Some is due to inattentiveness on the part of management. Mostly poor responsiveness is due to a lack of understanding about how essential the first perception of the prospect is to your ability to win their business. If you value responsiveness then it will quickly become apparent to your prospect that you do. And set you apart from your competitors.
You only have one chance to make a good first impression.Lois (my Mom)
Customers today are armed with a wealth of data gleaned from the Internet about the products and services they want even before they contact a seller for the first time.
Given the trove of information available, if a buyer still has questions after doing their research, then their need for an answer is, by definition, urgent and critical.
When that customer contacts a seller, they want an answer right now in order to make an informed buying decision in the least time possible.
The first seller to be absolutely responsive to the buyer’s need for information wins.
Every person-to-person interaction between a salesperson and a customer, who must be presumed to have already researched your product online, requires the salesperson to be completely responsive and create value for the customer in the least time possible.
Why are responsiveness and creating value so important? Here are two crucial reasons:
- For all businesses, responsiveness is inextricably linked to content and speed. If you’re a seller and your customers are working their way, step-by-step, through their decision-making process (otherwise known as the buying cycle), they won’t move from one step to the next until their information requirements for the current step are completely satisfied. Without responsiveness, a sale, or a buying cycle, will come to a screeching halt.
- When you create value for the customer during the selling process you build trust and differentiate your company from your competition. A customer may have 75% of the information they need to make a purchase decision about your product when they first contact you, but they’ll understand very little about the intangible value your company or product can add to their business. Being “absolutely responsive” will quickly give you that intangible advantage over your competition.
The 4 Simple Rules To Absolute Customer Responsiveness
- Responsiveness = Content + Speed.
- You aren’t absolutely responsive unless you are completely responsive.
- A fast but incomplete response to a customer’s request for information is the same as no response at all.
- A complete but slow response to a customer is marginally better than no response.
That’s what Zero-Time Selling is about: using absolute responsiveness to reduce to zero the amount of time required to convert a sales lead into a satisfied customer.
Do whatever is necessary to take the prospect’s breath away with your responsiveness. Keep in mind that every sales interaction with a prospect is an investment of time by the customer; time that they could be spending on other important tasks.
The customer’s Return On the Time Invested (ROTI) in the buying process will fall dramatically if you aren’t completely responsive.
A completely responsive salesperson not only follows up with the prospect in Zero-Time but also has the product knowledge and experience to answer virtually 100% of the prospect’s questions on the spot.
Think about the negative compounding impact of having salespeople who are not in command of all the facts about their product or service. The extra time they spend shuttling between your product experts and the customer is time they could be devoting to other prospects.
If all of your salespeople aren’t completely responsive, your company will handle fewer prospects than it should, in essence handing business to a competitor’s salesperson who is completely responsive.
Here’s a quick story to illustrate my point.
Recently I was shopping online for a particular service. I spent a few hours researching the alternatives and narrowed my choices to one system that seemed to fit my needs. I had some questions before I could make a decision. I tried to find a phone number to call but they didn’t offer one.
So, I tracked down an email address for their Sales department and submitted a list of 5 specific questions.
Within an hour I received an email response. Needless to say I was encouraged. I like doing business with like-minded companies.
Then I read the response. As best I could tell it didn’t appear to have been machine-generated, but even still…
Thank you for your interest in XXXXXXXXX. We are here to help you. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Sigh. I bought from another company.