If there was a Mount Rushmore for the world of sales, Zig Ziglar would hold an anchor position. Zig was a prolific author, captivating motivational speaker, salesman, and personal development trainer. He helped millions of people achieve goals that they believed were beyond their reach.
He also redefined the relationship between seller and buyer, characterized by the following:
“You will get everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” –Zig Ziglar
With this simple quote, he changed the way to think about sales.
Selling becomes helping.
Setting-up the pitch becomes seeking to understand.
Pitching becomes listening.
Closing becomes offering hope for something better.
But how does one go about establishing a helping relationship with a prospective buyer?
Written boldly on the walls near the entrances of Life Science Connect’s offices is a variation of the Zig Ziglar quote.
“We will not be great by what we accomplish, but rather by what we help others accomplish.”
I reached out to a few of my friends at Life Science Connect and asked them about establishing a helping relationship with buyers. Each of them is a director of strategic partnerships and they offered some great advice!
Having the Right Mindset
A good part of the work that goes into establishing a helping relationship with a prospect happens before the seller ever speaks to them, according to Tim Bretz. He puts it this way, “I enter each relationship with the mindset that I genuinely want to help them succeed and meet whatever goals and objectives they have.” It is this mindset that drives his actions.
Tracy Tasker adopts an empathetic mindset by asking herself, “what would I do in their situation, knowing what I know, and knowing my product and its capabilities?”
Seeking to Understand
Empathy of course requires a deep understanding of the prospect and the ability to see the world, their business, and their challenges as they do. Tasker’s priority with a prospect is “to try to understand their problems, challenges and entire situation.” She emphasizes that “there is a difference between asking questions to understand and asking questions to enable you to pitch your product and services.” It also requires patience. After a call with a prospect, Tasker intentionally takes time “to review her notes and then do research to prove to herself that she can help solve their problem.”
B2B prospects are trying to solve a problem, not buy something. Sellers who seek to help them are far more successful than those who pitch.
Tasker reminds us that “sometimes helping includes a monetary element and sometimes it doesn’t.” When convinced she can help someone, she develops specific detailed examples of how, talks through them with the prospect, and listens. And, when she doesn’t think she can help them, she still develops ideas about what would solve their problem and shares them with the prospect. Tasker says that telling a client no, when it is the right answer, can often lead to a bigger yes down the road.
Sometimes helping can take on the form of educating. Kirk Jackson often “provides insights into a problem the customer has that they didn’t know existed.” The buyer’s journey is ever evolving, and it is challenging to keep up with how buying teams are making purchasing decisions. Jackson believes that helping his prospects often begins with sharing a deeper understanding of the buyers they seek and the best ways B2B marketers can attract them with the right content, measuring results, and knowing where the buyers are in their journey.
Continuing to Help After the Sale
Helping does not end with a sale!
Bretz’s outcome with his prospects is a long-term business relationship and “maintaining healthy and frequent communications with them” is a key component to the relationship.” Through those frequent communications, he often gets feedback to ensure the customer is getting the outcomes they want. If they became a customer to solve a problem, do they believe it is working?
Life Science Connect delivers a comprehensive set of solutions to help customers grow their business. It often takes time for customers to fully understand how to effectively employ content marketing and measure the results. Jackson uses examples of how others are having success. He may alert his customers that a lack of content may be causing poor results and offer real-world examples of what they can do about it.
Most B2B solution providers say they want to help their prospects and customers, but what does a helping relationship look like and how does one develop a marketing and sales team that knows how to help?
Begin with a mindset change, seek to understand your prospects, engage in helping, and continue to help after they become customers.