10 Nov Design thinkers make the best salespeople
Yep, you read that correctly.
And no, this isn’t about making things look nice. When we hear the word design, we tend to think of aesthetics; but that doesn’t even begin to cover the role design plays behind the scenes. The iPhone may have been one of the most beautiful smartphones at the time of its release, but people would have never started camping out overnight for the next version of a pretty aluminum box. The phones worked. They were intuitive. They felt…effortless. That’s the design you don’t see.
So, what does this have to do with sales?
Design thinking delves much deeper than style, and incorporating it into your sales process can help you form better connections with your prospects and introduce them to new solutions (Read: repeat sales). Research by Gartner reveals that 53% of customer loyalty is attributed to the buying experience. That means your best bet for customer retention is improving how you make your customers feel, and design thinking is a great way to start.
The importance of discovery
Since it’s hard to separate products and the experiences we have buying them, you need to make sure your customers have a great experience working with you.
Sales can be a fast-paced environment where you’re encouraged to “Always be closing”. Yes, you need to have your practical goals and keep the ball moving; but make sure you don’t cut the discovery process short. Will Anastas, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Salesforce once said that “salespeople tend to fall into a prescriptive rut”. Design thinking breaks that habit and encourages you to put your assumptions aside so you can get to the core of what a client is asking for.
Any experienced rep will know that sometimes clients are fixated on a symptom of the problem instead of its actual cause. Before you suggest a solution, ask open-ended questions to get them thinking in a whole new way. The whole point is to have less of a scripted conversation and more of a customer-centric discovery process.
Empathy is everything
At some point in our lives, we’ve all dealt with a pushy salesperson who tried to sell us a product without really listening to what we wanted or why we wanted it. Design thinking revolves around putting your audience at the center of the problem-solving process. In this case, design thinking is about using creativity and making the sales experience more personal.
It’s all about using your understanding of their context to start authentic conversations. Once you understand your customer’s point-of-view, you can figure out what really matters to them and which subtle needs might be unmet. By observing and empathizing, you’ll build better and longer relationships with your customer while increasing the amount of trust they have in you. Buyers want to feel understood.
Think beyond the close
Salespeople are under tremendous pressure to close, and it’s important to balance that practical goal with the interests of your clients. That’s part of the reason why discovery is so important. Once you understand your prospect, you can anticipate their needs and adapt your selling style. Sometimes that even means leaving a project open a little longer to collaborate and discover new opportunities.
“At the end of the day, buyers are driven by emotion as much as by logic. If they view you as a trusted advisor, they are much more likely to buy from you.” – Will Anastas
Design thinking and the ‘user-first’ mentality it’s known for will help you make the shift toward becoming that trusted advisor.
There’s more where that came from: