Where Have All the Real Salespersons Gone

By cayuga

Dec 18, 2016

On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to interact with dozens of salespeople in a wide variety of locations. Over the years we have somehow gravitated from partnering with customers in building long-term relationships and account understanding to now taking orders in a more clinical, impersonal and highly transactional environment. However, customers still require the attention to detail that their salespersons bring as well as those salespersons’ understanding of their specific nuances while balancing the need for expediency.

It seems that in the midst of yielding demand, commodity or price-based selling and in the face of harried or limited training, salespersons do not really sell any more. When was the last time a salesperson took the time to truly understand what your unique and specific requirements were? When was the last time you really had the time to provide for just that?

In an ideal world, salespeople would take the time to qualify each lead thorough during the course of several hours-long conversations in order to derive what the exact individual needs of each prospect are. But alas, the clock is ticking and thus it becomes necessary to use a system for maximum returns on minimum time expenditure. For this, let’s reiterate one of the most basic of sales processes: OBF Selling.
‘O’bjectives: What are your, or your customers, objectives? I am not just talking about the technical requirements; I am talking about the underlying drivers. For every objective you uncover, there are at least two to three hidden factors that are motivating them.

As a simple example, consider the statement, “We need vegetarian options!” The CEO is a vegetarian; the attendees have food allergies; and there is a health push going on within that company. Now ask yourself, what could you do with those insights? Personalize the experience of the CEO? Further create menus that suit the needs of the client but also afford an opportunity to optimize pricing and food cost? Align company cultures to be more health-forward? Without truly understanding the key objectives you will never fully leverage the next step.
‘B’enefits: What benefits will the customer receive by working with you? There are 20 people in your space that make widgets. What makes yours better? Your customers need to know that you thoroughly understand their objectives and are able to clearly articulate the benefits of working with you and your company.

My thought process for this phase of the process would sound something along the lines of, “By selecting XYZ Technologies, you will not only receive the preferred pricing we discussed, but also unparalleled value in the technical support you require, timely delivery your supply chain requires, customized design changes that your long-term growth requires and the shared resources we can provide in securing our mutual long-term success.”
‘F’eatures: This is where you need to blow your own horn. If you can’t then you may need a bit of soul searching. The features portion allows you to leverage what truly makes you different in your space or area of expertise.

Your customer walks in the door with specific needs – for your purposes that is, objectives. They also walk in with expectations – what you should interpret as benefits. It is up to you to drive home the sale by articulating your differentiators in terms that address the needs (objectives) while reinforcing their expectations (benefits) by supporting them with your differentiators (features).

Remember, this is not about selling against your competitors. This is about selling to the customer. And so I ask again, where have all the real salespersons gone? They are still out there; they have just forgotten how to do it. And a good way to get yourself back on the right track is to use the OBF Selling method.


Article by Bill Scanlon, originally published in Hotel Interactive on March 21, 2016.

About the Author

Bill Scanlon is a former member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants.

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