Outcome based selling: A simple switch in focus will make your sales calls more compelling.
We talk a lot to our clients about how they should find out customers’ performance goals first, then craft their approach to help customers achieve those goals.
But recently I’ve been thinking about shifting away from the word “performance” and using a word that provides greater clarity: outcomes.
At Flume, we’re proud to be outcome-obsessed – we believe in honing your focus around what your customers ultimately want to achieve. It’s led us to think more about outcomes and how a simple change in mindset will help our clients create best-in-class sales experiences.
In The Outcome Generation, author Paul Henderson breaks the concept of outcomes down into two crucial groups: product outcomes and success outcomes. An easier way to think about this is short-term outcomes and long-term outcomes.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand how to use both types to structure your conversations and increase your chance of success.
Outcome based selling starts with short-term outcomes. These are all about what customers need a product to do for them.
Imagine you work for a construction company and a client calls up wanting a door. Rather than getting straight into talking about your products, think about the outcomes first.
What does your customer need the door to do? Where will it go? Does it have to fit into an unusual space, be incredibly safe or just look great?
Once you understand the ideal outcome for the product, you can say “we can help you with that” with conviction. You can suggest a product that ticks all those boxes because you genuinely understand their requirements.
Long-term outcomes are all about the big picture. What project is your customer working on? In six months’ time, what will that door be a part of?
Maybe your customer is renovating a house and wants the whole thing to look amazing. In which case, finding out those outcomes has opened the door – pun intended – to a different conversation. You know what grand plan and what you can upsell.
I’ve been asked, “why not go straight to those long-term outcomes first?”
It’s because you need to be able to start the conversation by talking about the challenges you can solve right now, which means the short-term outcomes.
Plus, it’s all about what feels easiest for the customer. It can be overwhelming to call about a product and get asked about your five-year plan; make it effortless for them, so you can take that next step in the conversation.
Every sales team needs to focus on outcomes to drive powerful results, whether you’re thriving or surviving.
It’s easy to take your foot off the gas when business is good. But you’re missing out on two vital opportunities:
When you’re getting a lot of inbound leads, there’s often a temptation to close each sale quickly with a specific product in mind. The problem is, you might try and sell the customer something else a year later and find their interest has dropped off.
A more effective tactic is to pause on that first call. Listen to what your customer wants from that product and then move onto their long-term outcomes.
What do they want to achieve over the next two or three years? What KPIs do they have? What needs to change for them?
If you’re doing a lot of cold outreach, the worst thing you can do is go out there and say: “I’ve got this product – do you want to buy it?”
No one wants to be sold to, but people do want you to provide solutions for their problems.
In this case, it’s often better to switch the outcomes around. A customer might be reluctant to spend in a difficult market, but you can help them put the stepping stones in place to achieve their goals.
Where does the customer need to be in a year? Two years? What are those long-term outcomes?
Once you’ve got that information, you can go back to their short-term outcomes and explain how moving forward on those will help them progress towards their long-term goals.
When there’s hesitancy around spending, salespeople need to create urgency. You want your customer to take action, so share the long-term outcomes of other people like them.
Providing that perspective shows them how they need to shift the dial on certain metrics. If you don’t have that knowledge in your arsenal, it’s going to be tough to make them care.
Flume’s sales training is all about driving high-impact, lasting change in sales teams. Even if you think focusing on outcomes sounds fantastic, I know that the real hurdle will always be convincing your team to change habits.
From our experience, here’s what won’t work – giving your team a list of questions. It’s unbelievably hard to make scripted calls compelling and most of the time they come across as sterile and lifeless.
My advice is to give your salespeople the autonomy to approach the calls in a way that works for them. Put fields in your CRM so they know what information they need to get, then let them build a natural conversation.
You can provide a useful structure to direct the conversation around those important outcomes, but you leave the actual “doing” for your salespeople.
What do you think about outcome based selling? How will you be training your sales team to utilise it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment on our LinkedIn article page.
More free resources available on outcome based selling can be found on our website here.
“Making training stick is the hardest thing to do.”
We hear this a lot when we talk to new prospects.
But it’s no surprise. Research shows that only 13% of new skills from sales training remain in place without reinforcement and coaching.
Training has to drive new habits that stick.
Find out how to do this and drive ROI from sales training.
28 Sales Acronyms used daily
8th September 2022
Sales velocity: Speeding up the decision-making process
24th August 2022
Sales velocity: How to improve conversion rates
13th July 2022
Sales kick-off meetings: How to use the momentum to power long-term change
17th May 2022
Drive retention and performance through a sales academy
9th March 2022
Call AI: The sales coaching technology you need in 2022
22nd February 2022
Drive real results from sales training in 2022: Why the traditional model doesn’t work
2nd February 2022
Sales Engagement Summit – Hosted by Raoul
16th December 2021
How business development reps can give buyers the confidence to say yes
3rd December 2021
The biggest mistake sales development reps make (and three things you should do instead)
9th November 2021
Five myths you need to know about customer success teams
11th October 2021
The four levers you can pull to increase sales velocity and how to make an impact
1st September 2021
Outcome Based Selling
3rd August 2021
Why most sales training doesn’t work and what to do about it
1st July 2021
3 reasons why writing a proper proposal is worth your time
18th March 2021
How to win a sales pitch…
26th February 2021
Sales Professionals: Why you shouldn’t assume you’ve got remote selling nailed
15th January 2021
Is your sales team ready for 2021?
4th January 2021
Selling Virtual Events
26th November 2020
Why salespeople must be ‘long-term greedy’: A five-step approach to winning more sales
13th November 2020
Closing skills: Why the pandemic has made it even harder to close that deal and what to do about it.
1st November 2020
Post Covid: How to fill your B2B pipeline with customers who do want to speak to you?
5th October 2020
3 steps for monetising virtual events
15th July 2020
18th May 2020
5 tips for closing in the crisis
4th May 2020
Using audience insights to engage with customers
20th April 2020
Biggest challenge of leading a remote sales team
15th April 2020
“Clients don’t want to engage with me”
6th April 2020
The world has changed – what should I sell?
31st March 2020
Leading remote sales teams
30th March 2020
Selling in a crisis
25th March 2020
Proposal writing research: Why your proposal doesn’t work
17th March 2020
How to accelerate your sponsorship revenue
17th February 2020
How selling to the individual increases your chance of them buying by 2x
7th February 2020
New Year, new rules. How to deliver sales training that actually works!
2nd January 2020
Half of B2B sales people will miss their 2020 targets. It’s time to shift perspective.
18th November 2019
Questions that drive more sales
15th November 2019
How to speed up prospect decision making… PART TWO
21st October 2019
How to speed up prospect decision making – PART ONE
14th October 2019
The biggest mistake salespeople make… and how to avoid it
26th July 2019
You have the right to demand more ROI from your sales training (and here’s how you get it)
16th May 2019
How to grow customer accounts this year
22nd March 2019
5 big sales mistakes from this year
23rd December 2018
How to turn the marketing trust crisis into sales opportunity
5th October 2018
Why is it so hard to find great business development talent?
21st September 2018
It might be hot outside but you still need a SCARF.
12th July 2018
The Peter Principle: Great Salesperson, Crap Manager
25th June 2018
The ‘great deal graveyard’ and how to avoid it
8th June 2018
The secret to selling in today’s market: Old-school to New-school
22nd March 2018
Why people DON’T buy from people they like
28th February 2018
What salespeople can learn from Nike
5th February 2018
Why “yes” doesn’t mean YES
26th January 2018
Take charge of your sales career in 2022
15th January 2018
How sales and marketing must work together to deliver results: tips from the front line of B2B selling
20th July 2016
6 facts and stats B2B sales people cannot ignore
26th May 2016
The amazing power of stories and 5 ways to make them sell
15th October 2015
The trouble with Blitz Days and how to increase their effectiveness
7th October 2015