Stop Selling Products: Start Forming Strategic Partnerships

The frank Agency Branding
Winter 2018
Stop Selling Products

It’s a commonly accepted proverb in sales that people don’t like being sold to. That may be true, but it’s equally true they continue to have needs.

Recognizing this paradigm of “intrusion vs. need” is key to pivoting your sales approach. For as long as your customers have needs, they will require help and guidance in choosing the product that is right for them.

Yet here is where so many companies and sales teams get it wrong: they assume that because someone has a need, they’ll immediately be interested in your message and your product. But, this is often not the case.

Always-On Selling

Dental practitioners are approached daily with various selling tactics from a multitude of manufacturers and distributors. Even if these are for products they need, the sheer number of marketing messages and sales pitches dental professionals hear on a regular basis cause these sales techniques to become white noise.

The product-centric sales approach only contributes to this noise, blending in and not breaking through. When the message is just about the product, after a while things bleed together and it’s even more difficult for practitioners to truly compare their needs vs. product features. This defeats the whole purpose of your sales strategy.

An approach that is centered around products and their benefits is simply a commodity race, and it will end up with the same results every time.

Reframing the Concept

Let’s take a step back and look at a difficult truth: productcentric selling is essentially a seller-centric approach. This type of pitch is about YOU: what YOU provide, what YOU do, and so on. This is precisely the approach that companies need to diverge from.

Instead, the shift needs to be toward forming strategic partnerships with customers. This is the customer-centric approach. It involves addressing and solving challenges, rather than showcasing features.

By taking a customer-centric approach focused on solution-selling, you’ll form strategic partnerships based on your customers’ concerns and needs.

This method deals with customers’ deepest issues and concerns and seeks to find the best solutions: How can we create more efficiency for your practice? How can we help boost your revenue? How can we support your hygienists and other staff? How can we help improve the patient experience in the operatory?

Distinguish yourself from the rest of the market by offering more than just products.

These are questions that resonate with practitioners as they show your main concern is their business – not your sale. The result should still be a product sale, but at the end of the day, you’re focusing on the customer's interests and needs by presenting yourself as a partner in advancing their practice.

Rethinking the Methodology

To represent yourself as a partner rather than a seller requires a tight cooperation between sales and marketing teams.

Through marketing, you’ll pave a smoother path for the sales team – gaining initial interest and nurturing that interest through strong, practitioner-centric messaging. This will allow the sales team to come in and continue that relationship in person, with the foundation already laid for partnership and solution-selling.

The relationships furthered by sales will cause prospects and customers to be more receptive to future marketing efforts. Think about it: when you personally know from whom the communication is coming, and that the sender has your best interests in mind, you’re more likely to review their marketing materials and maybe even respond.

Your marketing supports and sets the stage for your sales team, who then fosters customer relationships. The two in tandem bolster each other to create an overall positive, customer-centric experience that continues well past the initial sale.

Standing Out in a Crowded Market

There are hundreds of dental equipment manufacturers and distributors out there – all with overlap in their offerings and similarities in their products. How do you stand out from the rest?

The answer sounds counterintuitive, but is true nevertheless: You have to stop selling products.

Instead, sell partnerships. Sell long-term solutions that will deliver to your customers’ bottom line. Sell value in the form of service, consultations and superior support.

With a focus on partnership and longevity, you’ll gain customer loyalty, a distinguished sales team, and a reputation for quality that will be unmatched in your market and enable you to truly stand out.

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