A treat for all you thinking sellers out there, I interview Rob Bruce from his secret “hideout” in the Scottish Highlands. Rob has three decades of experience in enterprise software sales and marketing, having worked for Schlumberger, Oracle, and BroadVision. He’s seen it all, from early-stage fails to absolute rocketships. His last job was VP of Marketing for Kimble, but these days, he’s enjoying a sabbatical.
Fun fact: He is a mountaineer and rock climber.
In this interview, Rob highlights sales communication techniques modern virtual sellers need to embrace in order to be successful. We delve into the correct way of doing a “discovery” call for complex sales, the attitudes that virtual sellers need to have, and the idea of extreme curiosity. We discuss how sellers can understand their client’s challenges on an empathetic level, and match those challenges with varying factors.
Rob Bruce, ex-VP of Marketing at Kimble, gives his take on how salespeople, in a virtual or telephonic context, can understand their client’s challenges on an empathetic level and highlights a few key sales communication techniques that modern virtual salespeople can adopt to become successful at selling.
The Discovery Call
Most companies have some sort of qualification call process and all salespeople know this by heart. However, when we call it a qualification call, it makes it about you, the salesperson, and it really shouldn’t be about you or your company at all. It should be about discovering what’s going on with the customer.
With qualification calls – the vendor is trying to put the prospect through their process. If you’ve ever been on the other side of a qualification call, you know exactly what this feels like – not very nice! That’s where the importance of empathy comes in, and really trying to ‘discover’ what the client’s needs are.
Develop a ‘Delving’ Questioning Technique
There’s just one main sales communication technique you may want to develop here and that’s to be curious. You have to actually care about whether or not we sell an appropriate solution to the customer’s problem. Just keep asking questions. Don’t make statements.
Salespeople aren’t good with systems. If you’re a salesperson, you’re probably a people-person who has great communication skills, but you may find that you’re particularly impatient, competitive, and perhaps even a bit of a risk-taker, so following an A-B-C procedure on everything just won’t work. You’ve probably got really good judgement and that can work in your favour, so it’s best not to turn it into a formula, just be curious.
Be Committed for the Long Term
Genuinely be interested in building relationships with people because you’re confident that the stuff you sold them really works, and they’ll get great value from it.
Then make sure you’re selling stuff that actually is a good match for the customer’s needs, and that you’re selling it in a way that allows them to exploit the value from it. This will ultimately lead to a positive feedback loop, which means that your customers will become your advocates, and your advocates will bring in new prospects.
Resist the Temptation to Feature-Dump
When you’re dealing with 5 or 10 different vendors, it’s difficult to remember who said what, so it may often be that your prospects don’t remember which of the options were which.
When you try to promote features too early, you run the risk of having your prospects not remembering which guy was from which vendor, and which vendor’s service or product feature they liked most.
So don’t feature-dumping too early because it will only cause confusion, and most importantly, it will distract you from being curious and getting under the skin of the challenges that sparked their interest.
What about Virtual Sales?
Here are a few sales communication techniques & tips that could help you perfect your virtual prospecting in a complex sale:
Video on! – Definitely switch the video on if they’re up for it, because that massively improves rapport. do not overcomplicate it and do not pontificate or lecture.
Know the customer – The purpose of the call is for you to really understand how your customer’s business works and understand more about the challenges that they’re facing.
Differentiate yourself – When it comes to shaping a proposal, demo, or an offer, you really need to tailor that to the customer’s circumstances, so you save them time by helping them to get into the stuff that really differentiates you from the other offerings.
Be polite – Then go into ‘delving’ questions, but remember to be polite- you have to earn the right to ask deeper questions.