Professional Services and the Sales Conversation

August 17, 2016 by Mel Telecican

4 min read

Sales conversations aren’t something most would immediately connect to businesses in professional services, but of course they happen, perhaps a little less overtly than in other industries. Each time you have the first consultation with a prospective client, that is the time you can make an impact or leave them indecisive about choosing your business over another.

Some time ago I was researching online and came across an article detailing some of Mercedes Benz’s customer experience discoveries and improvements.

The most startling of all of the content was this sentence.

‘Another thing Cannon (CEO at the time) learned early on was that 70% of employees had never driven a Mercedes Benz.’

Imagine that. A stalwart of the automotive industry not having the majority of it’s people understand the experience of the cars they sell each day? Admiring these vehicles, cleaning them, perhaps sitting inside as they outline the benefits and customisable features to potential buyers. But, never driving it. It seems almost unfathomable that they wouldn’t have realised the value in going beyond educating staff on the features and benefits of their range to include experiencing it. So, it appears that even the most iconic, established and successful have overlooked the value of product knowledge on a deeper level. The whole customer experience.

Using the example of eating out, as it’s one we have all experienced, I nearly always ask wait staff to tell me about their favourite dishes. At least 50 per cent of the time it’s clear they’ve not tried much of the menu. It becomes a very different experience though when I walk out of a venue knowing the unique way the chef makes a dish or that the coffee beans are from a sustainable source that provides resources for children of the farming community. When I’ve been told about it, it’s all knowledge I walk away with and if I find value in it, I’m likely to tell my family and friends about it too – creating a connection of sorts with the business or brand.

Knowing your clients, what excites them, what motivates them to return to you over your competitors and to tell others about your business is part of this discovery process. However determining what it is that we don’t yet know about what we sell, is key. We can easily change that and in turn, have an opportunity to offer a richer, more positive client experience.

So, I encourage you to take a look within your business and ask:

  • What would an honest assessment of your current team’s product knowledge and service capabilities tell you?
  • Do your staff have only a surface-level understanding of your products and services? Is this because they’ve never experienced it to the full extent? Is there room to discover more?
  • When and how often will you create opportunities for your staff to test and talk about the products and services you offer?
  • Are the messages you share with your clients consistent? Does everyone in your the team ‘speak the same language’?

For Mercedes Benz, this discovery and the subsequent actions resulting from it, improved staff engagement and refined the sales conversation. Imagine the difference in conversation with a salesperson telling you the beauty of driving a Mercedes versus the sharing their story of having experienced a Mercedes.

Product and service knowledge is vital; experience knowledge even more so. How will you help your team experience what it feels like to be in the driver’s seat of your product or service?

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