Expo’s Meridith Elliot Powell: It’s All About The Client

The evolving economy calls for evolving sales strategies and techniques, but the most important thing sales professionals can do to boost their business in 2018 and beyond is to put the customer first. This was the core of Meridith Elliot Powell’s message to attendees at Tuesday’s Expo Keynote Luncheon, “Open More Doors, Close More Sales.”

“The economy is different now. We’ve moved out of a push economy into a pull economy,” she said, explaining that the consumer now is in control of the transaction process. “People can buy anywhere, any time, from anybody.”

No longer can salespeople convince customers to purchase products with a few well-designed ads; they must reach out to the customer to learn their needs, wants and desires in order to deliver products and services that fit. “How you sell is your competitive advantage,” she said.

Powell says the desire to feel a connection drives the new sales process, and customers want to experience an exchange rather than participate in a transaction. “I think listening is one of the most underrated tools in sales. When we listen, the message is that the relationship is about the customer,” she says. “Your job is to create a unique experience for your customer.”

Equally important in the sales process is the ability to match the customer’s pace. With an exercise aimed at identifying which attendees were quick to act and which required time to think and weigh options, Powell illustrated that customers fall into these same categories when making decisions about their own customers, and salespeople need to recognize which categories their clients fall under. “Pace is how we first connect,” she said.

Second, sales professionals need to identify what the client’s priorities are and focus on delivering services and products that support those priorities. “Ninety-nine percent of sales screw-ups happen because we put our priorities ahead of customers’ priorities,” Powell said.

Salespeople also need to give customers a reason to hear about them and know what they can do. “Ask yourselves, what will your customers lose if they do business with your competitor? Conversely, what will they gain from working with you? Sell risk and value, not product.”

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