The VAR Guy Blog

Memo to VARs: Instead of Selling, Help Your Customers Buy

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As salespeople, we often push products and services that we feel are best in class or are the latest and greatest.  In most cases this works very well, but sometimes we don’t completely resolve the customer’s pain points as well as we could have.  Instead of trying to sell, we need to focus on helping our customers buy.  To accomplish this, it’s important to take a few extra steps and deliver the right solutions that help our customers grow their business and be successful.

Here are three secrets to success:

1. Listen

The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  This quote is as true today as it was in the first century, and we salespeople can learn a lot by following his advice.

We love to talk about our products, the speeds and feeds, and how great they are.  In reality, what we need to focus on is listening to our customer’s needs, concerns and challenges.   When we listen first, we will be able to understand what is driving their buying decision.  Customers will tell you what they want, the problems they face, and what it takes to have them buy; we just need to take the time and truly listen.

2. Understand

Even after we have listened to our customers, to be effective in sales we need to fully understand.  Sometimes we offer customers solutions before we even understand what the problem actually is. We make far too many assumptions based on our knowledge and experience of our offerings instead of realizing that every customer and situation is unique.  You know what they say about assuming…

One word that has helped me during my tenure with a leading technology company is why.  Customers are great at telling you what their needs and pains are, but sometimes they aren’t aware of the root cause of their issues.  It is our job as experts to be able to see the big picture, read between the lines and educate customers on why they are in need and why they are feeling their pains.  If we can understand whys behind any purchasing decision, we can effectively and properly address our customer’s needs.

3. Solve the Problem

The key to any successful sales organization is the ability to meet customer needs and create relationships with clients that keep them coming back to you as their expert in what it is you do or sell.  Only after we have listened, have taken the time to understand the why of the issue, will we be able to solve the problem.

Many times we find that the final solution was dramatically different than what we had originally expected.  By tailoring our products and services around customer needs and pain points, we effectively become solution providers instead of pushy salespeople.  Once we solve the customer’s problem, we are generally able to make a sale.

In my humble opinion, following these basic principles will pay dividends and drive growth even in these tough economic times.  Once we stop selling our products and services, and shift our attention to helping customers buy products and services that solve their business challenges, we will become the trusted advisors that they are looking for and gain loyal customers every salesperson hopes to have.

John Vuong is a sales coach at Dell Inc. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual sponsorship. Read all of Dell's monthly contributions here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

John Vuong (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2011
Thanks all for the positive (and flattering) comments. :)
unicorn (not verified)
on Oct 18, 2011
We are the doctor, we have the cure. We diagnose and come up with a solution. This is a welcome change in some peoples' eyes. Post = well done. :)
jamie hayes (not verified)
on Oct 17, 2011
could not agree with this more. great post!
on Apr 14, 2013

Great Article. One are to help your client is by offering leasing. As an equipment provider in today’s industry, you can’t afford not to provide leasing or financing. Many of your competitors provide financing options for just about any business equipment available.
There are good reasons why these equipment providers offer leasing or financing to their clients. Offering financing options could bring your business to the next level. It allows you to take higher margins and minimize your need to discount your prices.
Offering financing options to clients could also shorten your sales cycle.
Sales cycle refers to the amount of time it takes to sell a product, from the moment a client considers his need for equipment until the time you close the deal. A shorter sales cycle could help you increase your sales revenue and bottom line.
By offering equipment leasing or financing, you let your client preserve his cash reserve. Instead of having to pay a big sum upfront for equipment purchasing, he can obtain the equipment without having to pay anything upfront, depending on your leasing or financing terms.
This way, you reduce your sales cycle because you may not have to wait as long for your client to get the equipment expenditure approved by his budget department.
Your client also does not have to take a big chunk out of his cash flow to pay for the equipment. It becomes easier for him to manage his stable, predictable cash flow.
With little money upfront and small monthly payments, your clients can make the decision to contract your services more quickly and easily.
While it may be possible for businesses to obtain financing from banks, the process could take a longer time. If you provide leasing or financing, there is no need for your clients to deal with a third party and wait for their response.
Even if the client already has lines of credit from a bank, equipment leasing or financing could still be of great help. After all, banks don’t usually specify whether the lines of credit have to be used for certain purposes. With equipment leasing or financing, a business could preserve its borrowing power for other purposes.
Equipment leasing or financing could also allow your clients to minimize the impact of the equipment becoming obsolete as technology evolves if you allow the option to upgrade the equipment during the leasing or financing term. This reduces the amount of time your client spends choosing which equipment to get and therefore reduces your sales cycle.
By letting your clients obtain equipment without having to put any money down, you allow them to grow and expand sooner instead of later. And when your clients grow, you flourish along with them as they continue to use your services.
The easier it is for your clients to decide to use your services, the shorter your sales cycle will be. By giving your clients the ability to conserve capital, minimize impact on cash flow and obtain equipment sooner, you overcome some of the most common objections businesses have against obtaining equipment.

For over 15 years, R.J. Grimshaw has been developing and improving business sales performance. He possesses a proven track record of creating and leading superior sales teams, with an aptitude for enhancing internal lines of business and building upon existing relationships. R.J. is currently helping Autodesk resellers, VARs, Manufacturers, Distributors and Tech Lessors grow revenue by using finance as a sales tool. He is also the founder of 7 different startup companies.
In his free time, R.J. coaches his sons’ hockey teams and spends time with his wife in Upstate New York.
RJ welcomes connecting via social media via twitter (@rj_grimshaw).

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