Commercial excellence means you know your customers so well, that you fully understand them as well as their context. This allows your company to anticipate their needs and expectations. And via sales and marketing to communicate the right thing at the right time, and to show the impact and value of what you have to offer.

To achieve commercial success, it no longer suffices to promote your company. Nor to merely listen and ask questions. Buyers increasingly expect the right information at the right time. And a number of elements are important in this regard.

Commercial Excellence: really know your customer

We need to align activities to the customer’s expectations. Any contact with your company, personal or online, needs to contain the right message aligned to the customer’s readiness to buy. You can accelerate the sales process considerably by meeting their expectations with every contact.

In terms of results

It’s not about what your service or product can do, but about its value to the customer. How does it impact their organisation? What specific results can they expect?

Highest market price

A customer-oriented organisation strives for the highest market price for its products and services. But at the lowest cost from the customer’s perspective. Commercial excellence has a positive impact on your cost of sales and enables you to get results twice as fast.

How can you achieve this? You may ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do your product developers and officers understand the importance of your products and services to the customer?
  • Do they know how the customer will work differently? And what improvements he will accomplish?
  • Are all persons involved aware of how your strengths will contribute to a better result?
  • Can you say whether your products or services will give a better result than those of your competitors?
  • Do your customers recognise the link between your strengths and their accomplishments?

Becoming a customer-oriented organisation

Not every industry has noticed crucial changes in customer behaviour yet. Determine to what extent your customer target groups are already part of the experience economy. To what extent do they use the Internet and social media to inform themselves? If this is the case, follow these four steps to achieve a more customer-oriented approach:

  • Ensure that your market is segmented on the basis of equal needs and reasons to buy. So that your sales messages can be used on a wider scale and are at the same time aligned in detail to each segment’s unique character
  • Map the obstacles preventing your employees from embracing new ways of working. Also map possible motivating factors to change work patterns
  • What current processes and KPIs obstruct a more customer-oriented approach?
  • Develop and implement a change project taking into account all of the above. Take special care to implement the required changes on a human scale. And clearly communicate the benefits for each person involved so as to stimulate willingness to change.

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Solution Selling is very common jargon used in many sales organisations. Companies that have introduced this method have gained a competitive advantage as a result of the way in which their sales people are successful in formulating the value for their customers.

This is how you sell solutions:

  • Discuss client needs using open questions, creating a vision and a solution together with the client. This gives the seller the greatest possible impact on what the client will ultimately buy.
  • The packaging of products and services in such a way that a total solution is created to satisfy client needs. A classic example was Apple with iPod and iTunes in contrast to a normal MP3 player.

Trend reversal: more power for the customer

The internet and social media have brought about an important shift in the way people are informed and how they make their purchase decisions. Since a a couple of years we have seen a trend reversal which has undermined the impact of Solution Selling. The customer now has the power. It’s no longer the sales process that counts; the purchasing process (customer journey) now has the upper hand. Welcome to the Digital Era. Customer interaction and sales discussions have to be different now to achieve good results.

Not just information, but conversation

You can still achieve a sustainable and competitive advantage in this new digital era. But now your customer knowledge forms the basis for the development of new products and services to satisfy the increased needs of better informed customers. Your marketing and sales don’t provide information so much anymore; instead they go into a conversation to improve the customer relationship with more engagement. A better experience and the proven impact of your solution will result in a higher margin and lower sales cost.

Difference between Solution Selling and Buyer-Aligned Selling

SOLUTION SELLINGBUYER-ALIGNED SELLING

What is the starting point?

As a ‘consultant’, make it possible to discuss requirements and guide the customer in their thought process until the specific solution is bought.Ability to question the customer’s beliefs and provide new insights to complete the picture.

Which process is required?

Your entire sales organisation using a proven sales process. All your activities and measurement systems must chart and improve its effectiveness and application.A dynamic buying process based on customer experience. Enable sales & marketing to adapt to the buyer’s mental phase of purchasing at any moment. Internal processes and measurement systems are designed to take the right action, at the right time and involving the right people.

What’s important?

Ask the right questions to discuss the challenges that can be resolved by the solution you are offering. The strengths must be explicit and demonstrable from the structure of the approach.Empathy with the customer situation and for everyone involved the use of language specific and adapted to the role and industry. This demonstrates an attitude which shows that helping the customer is the highest priority.

What knowledge is crucial?

Knowing the relationship between the customer’s challenge and the strengths of your products and services.Broad understanding of the customer situation: environment, challenges, aspirations and requirements.

What skills are crucial?

Prospecting, questioning techniques, listening skills, diagnosis, and persuasiveness.Customer focus, relationship-building, ability for concrete visualisation of your offer’s value and impact as well as the capacity to influence the willingness to change. Social Selling and the right mix of digital and human touch points are crucial elements in this.

What is the relationship between sales and marketing?

Marketing supports sales, and the two are aligned. Marketing ensures that both the customer and the seller are informed. Marketing generates leads for sales.Both are integrated and fully designed to match the customer’s buying process. As well as generating leads for sales, marketing is also responsible for the conversation with the customer and increasing engagement with the customer target audience.