We’re all looking for better ways to engage with our customers. Many companies already complement traditional sales and marketing activities with social media strategies to encourage customers to engage with their products and services.
This is all well and good, and has the potential to increase awareness. But if you’re selling complex, customer-specific products, perhaps with hefty price tags, there comes a time in every sales cycle when you need to establish that crucial relationship with your customer.
This is where your sales people play such an important role. Often more so than the products they are selling.
Why building rapport with customers is key
Some sales reps simply have “it”. These are the rock stars of your sales team – they always make quota and are the ones giving speeches at the annual awards dinner. Unfortunately these reps are the exception rather than the rule.
We can learn from them however…what they often have in common, is this ability to build rapport and trust with their customer.
All too often sales reps fall into the trap of selling “at” the customer, rather than being the assertive facilitator that most buyers are looking for. As a result, they never reach the point of common understanding where a meaningful dialogue and exchange of information and ideas is taking place.
This causes frustration for all involved. And although behavior and interpersonal skills play a critical role here, sometimes it is simply down to the tools that are available to us.
Consider this scenario
Imagine yourself in a sales meeting with a customer. You’re discussing a new packaging line for his pharmaceutical plant. You have with you a brochure with glossy pictures of the equipment that your company sells. You also have your laptop. On it, a six-month old company PowerPoint, plus a bunch of other information which you probably don’t want your prospect to see.
Because of this, you end up sitting across the table, the laptop now forming a physical barrier between you and your customer. The very same person you are so desperately trying to engage with, and whose trust (and signature!) you want to win. What better way of distancing yourself from your client?
When the customer tells you that he needs a line that can handle 28,000 triple-laminated units per day, you start searching through your laptop for some form of relevant information. But even before you start looking, you know you will have to say your goodbyes and ask to come back with a proposal and rough price estimate next week…after you speak to the product experts back at HQ.
You end up leaving frustrated, and your customer is far from impressed.
Now, let’s look at another way this could play out
Imagine that you have with you an iPad with a customer-focused CPQ tool. As you walk into the meeting room, you ask the customer to sit down next to you and place the iPad on the table. It’s alreay pre-loaded with his company information. There are no personal emails, and no sensitive information about product costs and margins.
You ask him what he needs, and he mentions a 28,000 a day unit that can handle
triple-laminated packs. You enter his capacity requirements. You tap ok.
And there it is – a valid configuration complete with a 3D image of the solution. Your customer can see it, he can almost touch it. Now you have something to talk about!
Immediately he starts providing additional pieces of information, and the two of you together can see how his input changes the configuration, bill of materials and associated pricing. You tweak the solution together. When he’s happy, you generate a quotation and email it to him.
His smartphone buzzes and his proposal, complete with budget pricing, has just arrived in his inbox. He thinks to himself – ‘this is the type of company I want to do business with.’
Last month Tacton Systems launched the most significant release of its CPQ software in over a decade – Tacton CPQ. This month, Tacton announced iOS mobile apps for CPQ and Order Approvals. By leveraging mobile CPQ functionality, manufacturers using Tacton CPQ can now engage in a more collaborative and productive way with customers. And as we all know – a customer who is truly engaged in the buying cycle will do most of the selling himself.
If you want to know more about Tacton and how CPQ apps can transform the way you sell, contact us for a demo.