I was visiting with a friend this week who has taken on a new sales role at a large recruiting-related organization and he was lamenting about the difficulty of getting his client’s (mostly HR professionals) time and attention to talk about his solution. And they’re even less enthusiastic about him walking the halls to discuss his capabilities with hiring managers in the business. It’s the age-old problem for sales people!
My suggestion was simple, use another UnSelling™ strategy: Become a subject matter expert (SME) on the broader context that your solution fits within. Here’s the recruiting-related example: If a sales person visits with an HR executive and says, “I’d like to talk to you about some of our new offerings…,”they will get rejected nearly every time.
Alternatively, if they were to approach the discussion more broadly as a SME in the recruiting space: “In working with other clients in your industry I’ve found that effective recruiting is not simply a matter of buying my solution and then, poof, a miracle happens and all the right talent shows up at your door. Instead, to recruit effectively you must first have clarity on the ideal profile of the role, then document/describe the role effectively to attract the best talent and have a sourcing strategy that reaches the right candidates. I’d like to better understand where you stand on these prerequisites so that you don’t spend money on our solution, or any others for that matter, that will not be fruitful.”
Did you catch the not-so-subtle UnSelling™ approach? We aren’t trying to convince the client that we have the right hammer looking for their nail (or screw, or rivet, etc.). Instead, we’re demonstrating that we understand the whole lifecycle of recruiting effectiveness and we’re having a business discussion about what works and what doesn’t work – regardless of what “solution” they decide to choose. It may be that without addressing these upfront key success factors they shouldn’t buy any solution.
If you want to build trust and make the prospective client comfortable in confessing their business challenges in order to help them solve these challenges, become a SME on the broader context of your business and your client’s business challenges and the client will ask you for help instead of you asking the client for an order!
Let us know if you’ve had success (or not) with this approach for the benefit of all of our readers!
This topic is all about helping sales (and non-sales) people to realize that winning new business is not about selling (or “telling”) more aggressively. It’s about changing the nature of the relationship between buyer and seller to one of trust and collaboration.