In business, the difference between proactive and reactive selling is night and day. Proactive selling is defined as taking the initiative to reach out to customers and actively trying to close a deal, while reactive selling is simply responding to customer inquiries as they come in.
The distinction may seem small, but it can make a world of difference in terms of closing deals. For one thing, proactive selling allows you to control the sales process from start to finish. You can reach out to potential customers on your own terms, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
What’s more, proactive selling gives you the opportunity to build relationships with potential customers before they even commit to doing business with you.
Much of the time, we adopt a reactive posture with our customers.
Reactive selling is all about being responsive to customer enquiries and adapting your sales pitch on the fly.
Reactive selling is all about being flexible and adjusting your approach based on feedback you receive during the sales process.
But reactive selling can be exhausting, mainly because the customer is often in control of the conversation.
The sales person makes a reactive statement and then waits for the customer response. Very often the customer response is intended to close down the conversation. For example,
Sales Person: “I’m calling to see if there is anything we can help you with today.”
Customer: “No, not today”.
Sales Person: “Last week I sent you our brochure and i’m following up to see if you’ve received it?
Customer: “Yes, but I don’t need anything. or “I get a lot of mail, I don’t remember.”
Too often, a reactive sales call ends with the salesperson, not the customer, doing something.
Reactive sales calls result in the sales person either sending (more) literature or setting a date for another call.
With reactive sales calls, you give up control of the conversation and reduce the possibility of making something happen.
Proactive selling is “the process of anticipating customer needs and taking action to meet those needs.”
In other words, it is about being prepared and looking ahead to what the customer might need, rather than simply reacting to what they have already said.
There are several benefits of proactive selling.
First, it allows you to build trust with the customer by showing that you are invested in their success.
Second, it helps you identify potential problems early on and find solutions before they become bigger issues.
Finally, it demonstrates your knowledge and expertise in your niche, which can give you a competitive edge.
To be successful with proactive selling, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, always be prepared for your meetings with customers.
Bring the customer into the conversation with an open-ended but specific question.
Asking an open-ended but specific question is a great way to get the conversation started and learn more about the customer’s needs.
This will help you better tailor your sales pitch and increase your chances of winning the deal. For example:
“How familiar are you with our Executive Success service?”
“What do you see as your biggest challenge to achieving your goal?”
“If the perfect product magically appeared in front of you now, what would it have that you can’t find elsewhere?”
Your questions should be targeted towards the customer needs but can be very effective for cold-calling as well.
With Proactive Selling you retain control over the conversation and build the opportunity to qualify the customer.
Other Proactive Selling Tips
Don’t forget to:
Start each conversation with a specific Initial Value Statement.
An Initial Value Statement (IVS) is a great way to start each conversation with a client or potential customer. Stating clearly from the outset the value you bring to the table can put your potential customer at ease.
An IVS demonstrates you understand what the client wants and needs.
It shows that you’ve done your homework and are invested in finding a solution that works for them.
This type of approach builds trust and sets you apart from the competition.
Confirm that you are speaking with the decision-maker.
When you are speaking with a potential customer, it is important to ensure that you are speaking with the decision-maker.
This can be tricky, as some decision-makers may try to defer to someone else.
There are a few ways to confirm that you are speaking with the right person.
When selling to a business, ask questions about the company’s buying process.
The decision-maker will likely be familiar with this process and will be able to give you specific details.
If the person you are speaking with seems unsure or gives vague answers, they may not be the decision-maker.
Another way to confirm that you are speaking with the decision-maker is to ask them directly if they are the person responsible for making decisions about this type of product or service.
Simply ask: “Are you the one who makes the final decision to buy?”
Check it is a Convenient Time to Talk
One way to be proactive is to ask if now is a good time to talk for a few minutes.
This shows that you are respectful of the customer’s time and are interested in talking with them about their needs.
It also allows you to gauge whether or not the customer is open to talking at that moment.
If they are not, you can politely ask when would be a better time to call back or meet in person.
If they are open to talking, then you can proceed with trying to sell them your product or service.
Either way, by being proactive you are increasing your chances of making a sale.
If The Customer Has Already Bought From You, Thank Them For Their Business.
If a customer has already done business with your company, they are more likely to do business with you again if you take the time to thank them for their previous patronage.
A simple “thank you” can go a long way towards building customer loyalty and repeat business.
If you take the time to show your appreciation, customers will remember that and will be more likely to do business with you again in the future.
It is worth remembering that Proactive Selling doesn’t work for everyone and won’t work all the time.
Proactive selling is a great way to win new business, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of sales.
Sometimes, being more passive and letting the customer come to you can be just as effective – if not more so.
It’s worth remembering that not everyone responds well to an aggressive sales approach.
In some cases, it can actually do more harm than good.
If you’re dealing with a potential customer who seems hesitant or uninterested, it might be best to back off and let them come to you.
There’s also a time and a place for proactive selling.
If you’re dealing with customers who are already interested in what you have to offer, then by all means go for it!
But if you’re cold-calling or approaching potential customers out of the blue, they may not be ready for such an aggressive sales pitch.