I just got off the phone with a new client. It was a fairly predictable conversation. We discussed the details of my Sell to Women presentation. Then the event planner caught me off guard. She asked, "Could you also recommend someone who knows how to write marketing copy? And we're looking for a contract graphic designer, too."
Did I hear her correctly? Was the client hoping I would provide additional resources? Yep, it was true. In this new economy, buyers are looking for the seller who's a jack- or a jill-of-all-trades.
What You Need to Know
• Buyers are trying to do more with less. Businesses and individuals are experiencing the effects of the new economy. With so many people laid off in 2008, those left behind are really feeling the strain. A lot of companies are trying to operate with 10 to 30 percent less staff. Many are scrambling just to keep up. With more layoffs predicted for 2009, the do-more-with-less trend is expected to continue. Does this mean doom and gloom for sellers? Not at all. It is possible to survive—and even thrive. However, you may need to rethink how you do business.
• Take some burden off the customer's shoulders. Whether you're selling to companies or to individuals, B2B clients and customers want you to make their work and/or life a whole lot easier. I'm not just talking about throwing some extra perks into the sale: In this market, that isn't reason enough for someone to hand over their cash. Buyers are looking for the seller who offers more than value-loaded goods and services. They're hoping you'll have the resources to take some of the day-to-day load off their shoulders.
What Each Buyer Expects Today
• Companies are looking for additional resources from sellers, some of which may surprise you. Here's what's going on: In the good old days (approximately six months ago) companies wouldn’t think twice about contracting with numerous vendors to provide goods and services. Not now.
These days many businesses don't have the internal people power to source and/or manage multiple vendors. To compensate, they are turning to sellers with whom they have good relationships and who will bring the additional resources to them. You might now be asked to assemble a multi-service team under the umbrella of your company. A client may also ask you to share your professional contacts, as I recently discovered. (Interestingly enough, many women have been doing business this way for years. Maybe this new economy is learning a trick or two from them.)
Whatever the inspiration, the reality is that businesses are expecting more from you than just your products and services.
• Individuals want more from their shopping experience. Retailers and service providers are also being asked for a lot more. For example, one of my clients owns paint and wallpaper stores. The shops were known for selling paint, wallpaper, brushes and clean-up materials. It was all pretty straightforward. Well, things have changed in that world, too. Buyers are coming in with big wish lists.
Before the sale is rung up, the customer may have asked for the names of a good window cleaner, a reliable rug-cleaning service and a dependable handyperson. That's in addition to expecting the paint vendor to put on their designer hat and make excellent color choices.
Become the Jill- or Jack-of-All-Trades
• Gather a team of experts around you. Today's buyer is short on time, and probably tired from working harder at a job they're still grateful to have. They're hoping that you can help them out. So turn this new trend into your competitive advantage.
This is exactly what another of my clients did. He owns an exhibit display company. With the cutbacks in trade shows—his main market—he's had to rethink his selling strategy. To stay competitive, he compiled a list of complimentary vendors to subcontract and/or recommend to his clients.
By supplying trustworthy resources of such suppliers as signage companies, AV people, promotion and incentive businesses, etc., his company has become a valuable resource. Similar to other industries, most of his clients don’t have enough staff left to source or manage all of these vendors. They, too, are trying to do more with less. Now he and his salespeople make sure to offer the resources before the customer asks. It's working. Business is up.
Whether you're selling to a company or to individuals, customers have new expectations. They're looking for the seller who can provide more resources than ever before. So put together a list of all the complimentary specialists you can subcontract and/or recommend to your customers. Then offer it, before they ask. Becoming a jill- or jack-of-all-trades could be one of your best selling strategies for 2009.
Kelly McCormick is an expert on how to OutSell Yourself with Women and to OutSell Yourself with All Buyers. She also writes a monthly column on women and sales for www.SalesandMarketingManagement.com. Her book, OutSell Yourself: How to Sell Without Selling, is soon to be released. You can get Kelly's sales e-tips and information on her sessions, keynote talks and tele-classes at www.outsellyourself.com or by calling 800-889-9637.