And there was once a time when products and services would do all the talking and literally sell themselves. All the business owner (or sales representative) had to do was know everything about what they had to offer and be able to regurgitate a sales pitch to attract new customers.
Those days, however, are well and truly over, and the "show up and throw up" approach to sales is no longer a successful one; despite what you may think.
Get into their shoes
To highlight why this approach no longer works, put yourself in one of your customer's shoes. Would you rather buy a product or service from someone that swans into a meeting and basically gives you a one-way sales pitch about how they are great and why you should buy from them or from one that turns the focus on you and endeavours to find out how they can help with your needs and wants?
It's a no-brainer, right?
The customer-focused company, which says: "I understand your company and the market in which you operate. Here's what we're seeing in the marketplace, what our customers are telling us. and here's the solution we have for you because........." is the one you'll more than likely go with.
The ubiquity of the Internet today means that anyone who is slightly interested in your products and/or services should be able to find out everything they need to know on your company website. So if that's the case, why do you need sales representatives who simply just repeat that information? The answer is, they don't.
It's all about perceived value for money
Nowadays, consumers are a lot more discerning and expect to get a whole lot more value for their money. And why shouldn't they? After all, competition is invariably rife in most industries, so you should be prepared to go the extra mile and then another mile again to ensure you secure their business.
You need to know everything about your prospective client before you've even met them. While that might sound difficult, it's not. Again, the Internet is your friend and you can find out a huge amount of information about a potential customer/client from their website, Google LinkedIn etc.
As a very minimum you should know what industry they operate in; who are their customers; who is their competition; and what challenges are they currently facing?
Imagine a prospective customer's reaction when you meet them and talk mainly about their business, not yours. It not only shows that you've taken the time to do your homework before and are, therefore, diligent, but also that you actually care about them.
Relationships are always two-way affairs
By bringing value to the relationship from the outset, your prospective customer will trust you far more and that's worth its weight in gold. With trust established, your insights and experiences will go a lot further and help establish you as the trusted adviser.
With this strong relationship forged, you'll find yourself in the best position possible to grow the potential with that client.
It's important to emphasise how approachable and easy to deal with your company is. A prospective customer may have a specific need, but if they don't feel comfortable discussing it, you will never know. And that's a lost opportunity.
Highlight to everyone that your service, your manner is what defines you and makes you stand out against the crowd.
The bottom line is that being an expert in your product/service is no longer enough and the "show up and throw up" approach is now obsolete. You need to put all of your focus on your customer(s)/prospect(s) and make them feel as though You and Your company is indispensable.