Become a problem finder, not a problem solver

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In today’s world, sales reps no longer hold all the power. Sales have changed beyond recognition over the past twenty years. What has changed?

Access to information has been the major change and how to find trusted information. Fifteen to twenty years ago the sellers held power because they had the information buyers required. Today, the tables are turned. Buyers have access to more information sources considered possible two decades ago.

Unlike the old world of sales where the seller is in control of the information access. Buyers have access to the same information. The problem for the buyer is making sense of all this information. Knowing what information can be trusted and used to help make their decision. The problem for the seller is buyers often know as much, sometimes more than sellers do. Their role has moved from providing access to information to helping buyers make sense of the mass of information available.

If a buyer understands their problem, they will have already been searching for an answer. According to Forrester, 53% of Business to Business (B2B) buyers prefer to go online and consider it superior to interacting with a salesperson. They will have a better understanding of their own situation than the salesperson. This means they could well be better informed about their options than the seller. According to Terminus, the average Software as a Service (SaaS) buyer is not contacting sellers until they are 57% through the sales process. This is expected to rise to 80% by 2020.

To win buyers’ trust, sales reps must become a trusted influencer themselves. That means you, the seller needs to become skilled at curating the information related to your audience’s situation.

To protect yourself from becoming overwhelmed by the amount of information available. You must also become laser focused on what value you are focused on delivering to your audience. Your future sales success depends upon focus. Helping your clients better understand the information available. Providing options that compels them to address their known problem.

This means you need to do more than stepping into their shoes and understand their situation, challenges and priority needs. Your success is moving from solving problems buyers are aware of, to finding problems they did not know they had. As we have seen, buyers are already 57% the way through their sales process before they reach out and connect with sellers. If they are unaware of a priority problem, you are there from the outset helping them solve it. You will have already started to win their trust and confidence.

Today, many buyers could solve their problems without a sales rep. This assumes they know what the problem is, and they have not got their understanding wrong. You need to help them see their situation in a fresh, more revealing way. This will help to reveal problems they did not realize they had. Find priority problems you can solve that buyers are unaware of. Which means you should focus on becoming a problem finder, not a problem solver.

Download our Sales Pipeline Guide for Sales Teams & Business Owners. Within this guide, you can also download our free Guide Using Sales Prospecting Tools to Improve Sales Pipeline Reviews. It also provides guidance on restructuring the stages of your sales to reflect your buyers’ journey.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.