I’ve often found that as sales people, we spend our lives worrying about the competition. And it’s a fair concern. It's understood now that 57% of a prospect’s purchase decision is complete before a customer even speaks with a sales person. Imagine a customer’s mind being 57% made up on working with one of your competitors before you’ve even spoken with them? Tough work to turn them around!
Furthermore, we live in a world where the difference between products and services is so minimal, that it’s no wonder prospects end up making decisions based on who can sell at the cheapest price. Take a look at this image of marketing technologies to get an idea of how crowded the marketplace is in just one category:
So what is the one thing sales people can do to gain the upper hand in the battle against the competition? The one thing that will help you crush the others and help buyers make favourable decisions?
It all comes down to level-jumping our sales conversations.
When we can sell better than the rest, we increase our chances of winning exponentially. We rely less on our products to do the talking, and take matters into our own hands.
Thankfully, the rise of conversation intelligence technology has given sales people the insights, data, and direction they need to transform the quality of their interactions with prospects.
Here are five ways you can:
I came off a sales demo a few weeks back where there was role reversal. I was the one being sold to by an Account Executive. It’s fair to say that I spent the majority of that demo sat in silence. The demo became a training session where I was being talked AT rather than being engaged in a conversation. It was dull, lacked personalisation, and quite frankly a waste of time. I had became disengaged within the first ten minutes. Was the AE aware how much they had talked on the demo? I doubt it. Most of the time sales people are unaware of how much they are talking and often massively misjudge their talk:listen ratio.
Conversation intelligence platforms now tell you as a sales person when your talk time is in the danger zone. It makes you aware of how much you spoke versus your prospect on individual calls, or even as an entire average. The assumptions are removed and the reality is shown. When we talk less, we sound more human, more caring, and more inquisitive. Our prospects prefer these traits. Further, when our prospects talk more, we find out more about their situation, challenges, and desires. All of the ‘stuff’ that helps us sell better.
Some wise sales guru once told me that good selling is all about asking good questions. When we ask good questions we achieve a number of things. Firstly, we spend more time understanding how we can help prospects rather than talking about ourselves. Secondly, it creates pain, and builds urgency to buy. Finally, it enables us to understand whether its worth spending more time with a prospect, or whether they will simply never buy and we are best off focusing on others. But do you know how many questions you ask in your sales calls?
Conversation intelligence technology leverages AI and machine learning to identify how often you ask a question in your sales conversations, but also the specific moments you ask them. It provides us with the clarity on how many effective questions we ask, versus those which don’t add any value to the conversation. Finally, it enables us to capture those ‘killer’ questions which often make deals, and the ability to re-visit them again and again so they become an ingrained part of our competition defeating vocabulary.
Getting the insight on what the top reps are saying
I was speaking with an SDR of a client this week and he was telling me his experiences of trying to become the top appointment setter in his team. He was quite used to being close to the top of the pack, but that recently he had had some frustration of being overtaken by a new rep on the team. Not wanting to settle for second best, he talked to me his strategy of rising up the ranks again. He simply started to listen to some of the call recordings of his colleague. Conversation intelligence was able to direct him to the specific parts of their call where they were having huge success with their value propositions and the specific techniques they were leveraging to navigate gatekeepers. Specific choices, nuances, and framing of words was unlocking the key to success.
When we start to actually hear for ourselves how the top reps handle scenarios and situations on sales calls, we instantly become more effective. Conversation intelligence technology provides you with the insights to call success in almost rapid fashion. The result is an army of reps all beating the competition, rather than this being siloed to just one or two.
Master the ‘how do you compare?’ question
In order to beat the competition, often times we simply need to know how to best answer the question ‘how do you compare?’ I dare say that if that was asked to most sales teams, you would end up hearing a multitude of different responses, and a lack of consistency on how to best handle an absolutely key question.
Thankfully, conversation intelligence technology can now alert you to every time a competitor is mentioned on your sales calls. This not only enables you to get the data behind which of your competitors you come up against the most, but also helps you accelerate your ability to knock them out of the park. It will help you find out who on your team nails the ‘how do you compare?’ question, and then listen to how they answer it with conviction and verve. Platforms like Refract also enable you to practice responding to the ‘how do you compare?’ question, in a safe environment using scenario challenges. This in turn means that when you hear it in a live prospect conversation, you sound more accomplished and confident than ever before.
How do you beat the competition? Simply learn how to masterfully convey how you are superior to them.
Eradicating feature bashing
Most sales people fall down the trap of talking too much about the features of their product, rather than the specific value they can bring to their prospect. When prospects are on the end of a ‘feature bashing’ session, they switch off and normally fall asleep. I remember being sat on the receiving end of a sales demo, where the rep took me on a harbour tour of his product; highlighting every single menu, button, and widget over the course of an hour. The reality was, that only 20% of what he showed me was relevant to helping me succeed. He lost the deal due to the buyer experience being so poor.
Using conversation intelligence technology, companies can create topics of keywords, specific to the names of their own products and features. AI will automatically locate every instance of each feature being talked about in a sales conversation, and highlight how often they are being discussed. This serves as a stark reminder to sales people not to fall down a feature bashing rabbit hole, and builds awareness of how much time they actually spend selling value. 90% of your competition are likely ‘feature bashing’. Be in the other 10% and start to win.