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  • Sarah Frazier • Mar 9, 2022

How to lead sales conversations that improve your win rates

It's an obvious part of the job— sellers are trained to know everything about your product or service. Additionally, most have a good idea of who your competition is and how you compare. But is that what buyers are looking for from you?

It’s an obvious part of the job— sellers are trained to know everything about your product or service. Additionally, most have a good idea of who your competition is and how you compare. You probably could rattle off why your product or service is better and make a convincing case. But is that what buyers are looking for from you?

According to the 2022 State of Competitive Intelligence, 59% of sellers say their markets have gotten more competitive. Further, research by RAIN Group shows nearly one out of three sales are lost to a competitor, even though your product may be superior. So, assuming you know your competitive advantages, what went wrong?

We brought together Tai Scrivener, Sr. Consultant at RAIN Group, and Mark Tanner, Co-Founder and COO at Qwilr, to share insights on what buyers are looking for, how to add more value to your sales conversations, and how to improve your win rates.

Watch the webinar recording now:

View the slide deck

Why do buyers buy?

Why do buyers buy? To fill a need? To solve a problem? Or are there ulterior motives behind making a purchase?

While it’s tempting to want to pitch your product or tout how excellent your service is, true sales is about understanding a buyer’s complex need or want. And sometimes, the buyer doesn’t even know they have a need until they are made aware of a gap in their current process. 

As a sales pro, it’s up to you to extract why a buyer is reaching out, give them a reason to buy, and articulate the value that your solution provides. A strong value proposition provides the foundation for structuring your sales conversations.

How to build a strong value proposition

A good value proposition is like a three-legged stool— each leg is necessary and supports the other in your sales conversations. So what are the three legs?

  • Resonate: Why should a buyer act and why now? Probe into both organizational and personal motivations. For example, your product may help buyers save money or gain efficiencies (save time), or on a more personal level, less stress, career gains, etc. Without the resonate piece, the buyer won’t understand why they need your product or service, and as a result, there’s no urgency to move forward.
  • Differentiate: Why should a buyer choose you? How are you different from your competitor? Differentiation can be significant differences in your product features, or more subtle, such as your payment terms or the trustworthiness of you, their salesperson. But if you don’t differentiate yourself, then your buyer turns to price as their only comparison and begins to ask for discounts or “your best deal.” To move away from the pricing game, you must articulate what makes you different from the other solutions or options and then communicate those advantages to your buyer.
  • Substantiate – Why should a buyer trust you or your claims? Let’s face it; salespeople make lots of claims. It’s up to you to help your buyer substantiate your claims and create a compelling case; otherwise, buyers feel it’s too risky and won’t move forward with the deal.

When you have a solid value proposition, you position yourself and your brand as the best option, are more apt to close the deal at a premium price and convert your prospect into a loyal customer.

why buyers buy and how to improve win rates

Graphic courtesy of RAIN Group

RAIN sales conversation framework

Pitching your product without understanding your buyer’s needs is like an optometrist prescribing glasses without first examining your eyes. It’s not appropriate, nor would you have faith in their diagnosis— the doctor must have a good understanding of your weaknesses and where improvements are needed. The same holds true in consultative selling. 

Now more than ever, buyers need your help to make the right decision with their money. However, understanding the underlying need sometimes involves redefining a buyer’s thinking. As odd as it might sound, buyers don’t always know the core problem. Sellers, you, on the other hand, are the experts on your product or solution, how it’s helped similar customers, and how it can improve your buyer’s situation, too. When you shift your mindset from a salesperson to a trusted advisor, you build rapport with your buyer.

From rapport to commitment

Having detailed sales conversations requires much skill and thought— it’s not easy. However, effective sales conversations are both a skill and a science; use the RAIN acronym to guide how you approach and structure your sales conversations: Rapport, Afflictions/Aspirations, Impact, New reality.

Rapport: Most everyone understands the concept of “rapport” or building a good relationship with your buyer. Always be looking for ways to strengthen your professional association as your buyer goes through the purchasing process. 

In a 2013 general social survey, study participants were asked what percentage of people are trustworthy. Their answer was surprising— a dismal 30%. However, when the same group was asked what percentage of people you know are trustworthy, the response jumped to 70%—  a 40% difference! The bottom line is we don’t trust strangers. 

Without building rapport, buyers won’t open up and share their afflictions or aspirations. And connection extends beyond just using their name or referencing basic LinkedIn information. Be genuinely interested in your buyer— find common ground and let them talk about themselves. Remember, there’s a human being behind every decision-maker. Good rapport helps a buyer feel more comfortable and is essential to earning their trust and winning their business.

Afflictions: As sellers, we tend to focus on the problem— something that is not optimal for the buyer. And rightly so. Fear— rejection, missed opportunity, failure, loss, or even humiliation— is twice as powerful a motivator than desire or what a buyer will gain. However, be careful here. If you are only relying on fear in your sales process, it creates a strange vibe, and your conversation will be negative all the time. For a more effective discussion, balance afflictions with aspirations, which also helps to create a sense of urgency for moving the deal forward. 

Aspirations: Not every buyer will have an affliction, but they all have aspirations. Everyone wants to grow, improve, advance, etc. Discussing a buyer’s aspirations makes the deal more personal and emotional, thereby increasing your chance of successfully closing the deal. And we’re not saying you need to dive deep into the private life of your buyer— emotional needs can be professional, social, or psychological. For example, stress is an emotion, as is relieving boredom from mundane work. And emotions are powerful, too. After all, we are emotional beings who think, not thinking beings who have emotions. Buyers have both emotional and rational needs, and you need to address both.

Decision-makers are emotional beings who think, not thinking beings who have emotions.

Tai scrivener, sr. consultant, rain group

Impact: Openly discuss the impact of your solution with your buyer. As an example, what are the adverse effects of the problems continuing? Then flip it around and ask what is the impact if your aspirations come to fruition? Many sellers jump too quickly to the solution, but savvy sellers spend ample time helping the buyer genuinely understand and articulate the impact of moving forward. Dig deep into the impact, too, asking, “what is the effect of x” or “ what will be the result of y” in your conversation, as it helps the buyer in their self-discovery. 

Finally, never assume you know the answers to the impact questions. Instead, take the time to ask your buyer what it means to them if you solve their afflictions and attain their aspirations. And if your buyer doesn’t know the answer, be prepared to share the results similar customers have experienced to illustrate your solution’s impact.

New reality: Articulate to your buyer how much better their life or situation will be due to moving forward with the purchase. As much as possible, translate the buyer’s new reality into rational and emotional impact— not only revenue gains or financial savings but show how your solution reduces stress or improves work/life balance, as an example. 

Additional tips for discussing the buyer’s new reality:

  • Highlight the gap between where the buyer is now and where they could be
  • Paint the picture – whenever possible, use visuals to make your takeaways more memorable. Qwilr especially excels in this area; request a demo to see how to make your proposals visually impressive and unique.

All in all, if you’re thorough with each piece of the RAIN sales conversation framework and have a solid value proposition, you not only inspire trust but build influence with your buyer, which ultimately leads to higher win rates.

See how Qwilr can help you create amazing proposals that capture buyer attention, engage your prospect, and win more business. Book a demo now.

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