Guest post by Norman Behar, CEO, Sales Readiness Group

Last month, I attended the Sales 2.0 Conference in Chicago and took note of two major trends to improve sales.

  1. Aligning your sales process with your customer’s purchase process
  2. Collaborating with customers to solve their needs

While aligning your sales process with your customers purchase process seems pretty straight forward, it is easier said than done. Customers have complex and often competing priorities and do not always make their decisions in a linear fashion.

By doing some very basic research upfront, sales professionals can more effectively plan for sales calls and get a sense for overall company priorities. Sales professionals also need to gain a clear understanding of the approval process and who they should be selling to. Budgets have been severely constrained, and more decisions are requiring “C level” approval. As an example, we heard from one senior executive whose approval authority had been reduced from $1 million to $10,000.

It is also essential to realize that customers have access to more information than ever before. They can quickly search the web and gain a clear understanding of both your and your competitors’ offerings. They can also check a variety of sources to get a sense for how well your “solutions” are working. As a result, sales professionals need to bring more that just “solutions” to the table. They need to engage in collaborative conversations that allow the customer to serve as the co-architect of solutions that addresses their specific priorities.

By engaging in this dialogue, sales professionals will forge a deeper understanding of their customers needs and co-create differentiated solutions that are based on value as opposed to being driven by price. Most importantly, they will develop a trusted relationship that will allow them ongoing access to the customer and position them to earn more business as the economy recovers.

Norman Behar is a proven sales leader with over 20 years of CEO, COO and senior sales management experience. Prior to co-founding Sales Readiness Group, Norman served as a Managing Partner at Linear Partners, a boutique sales consulting firm focused on providing sales effectiveness solutions to emerging growth companies.