Ladies and gentlemen, to say we are in a complicated selling environment is an understatement. Customers today don’t need you the way they used to. Today’s buyer is more informed, educated, savvy and impatient than ever before. With information overload, status quo bias, high call complexity, confusing policies, purchase hassle factors and growing variability in rep and customer language, it’s no wonder only the most motivated salespeople are surviving. So how can you possibly stand apart from competitors in this dog-eat-dog world? Advocacy is the answer.
Become a customer’s champion through advocacy
Advocacy isn’t just taking responsibility for a customer’s problem anymore. While advocacy does mean assuming responsibility for issue resolution, it also means acting as a consultant for the customer, showing empathy where appropriate and transparency where needed. Customers want you to solve a problem or meet a need for them. In return, leading companies need to figure out the best way to provide solutions to problems and find ways of fulfilling their customer’s needs with a stronger value proposition than their competitors.
But what does that have to do with sales?
In order to remain relevant and continue to add value, organizations must redirect their focus entirely on the customer—starting with the sales team. Sales teams can strongly influence the buyer journey if they keep advocacy at the core.
In a sales interaction, reps should exercise declarative advocacy: “I have a package for you that will meet all your needs.” One of Tethr’s customers, a home services provider, found that employing advocacy had a significant lift on sales conversion: when reps used advocacy language, sales conversions increased by more than 22 percent.
How is advocacy taught?
Sales rep skills trump a willingness to learn or a certain personality. Skills like advocacy must be developed for a salesperson to be successful. Take issue resolution, for example. It’s pretty much a requirement for effective cross-or up-sell conversations. After a rep has crossed that path and is ready to make the offer, value positioning (helping the customer realize the benefit in their own context) is one of the most important steps.
A key aspect of mastering advocacy is demonstrating this value. Regularly finetune these advocacy skills to create a relationship with the customer that will increase their receptivity to sales offers, as well as the probability that they will remain a loyal customer.
Advocacy can’t be scripted
Our language is constantly evolving and so are the needs of our customers. It’s nearly impossible to script future interactions with potential clients. There is no single right way to portray or deliver this language. Sales interactions are all unique, so trying to draft up an advocacy speech before your next call isn’t going to work. The best way to master your advocacy skills is through active listening (undivided attention, asking helpful questions, repeating key points) and practice. The very best sales reps will not only succeed as advocates for their customers, they will breed future advocates for their brands.