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Future proofing your small business – it’s time to listen to your customer’s needs

David Freedman, Director of Sales, at leading sales and negotiation specialists, Huthwaite International, the team behind the world-famous SPIN® Selling, reveals the five key tactics small businesses should implement to future proof their businesses.

You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. The digital age has transformed the sales arena. And, whilst many are looking to technology and new sales approaches to adapt their business, a continued focus on quality customer service and added value is at risk of being overlooked.

The digital age has arrived in tandem with globalisation. This has in turn seen companies focus on cost reductions, such as outsourcing services and manufacturing oversees. However, there is a perception that this has led to a loss in quality and value for customers.

This is a key consideration for small businesses. Whilst many feel the digital age must be accommodated by adopting a digital sales approach – there is also a growing need for a more focused and human approach to selling.

The rise in demand for organic produce, ethical business practices and locally sourced product is no coincidence. Society is breaking away from traditional capitalist behaviour and instead looking to feel more human again. Enter the ‘hipster’ movement – people looking to re-connect in an overly digital world.

So, what does all of this mean for sales? Well, as you may have already concluded, a rise in digital products and services, shouldn’t mean the fall of quality customer service – and that includes sales. The savvy consumer now requires more than just a cost-effective product or service, they want a cost-effective solution.

Buyers – whether consumer or corporate – want to feel important and like they matter. As if they are an individual. The rise in globalisation and digital connectivity has resulted in the consumer needing to feel as if they count. They want the bespoke approach.

We see this time and time again in contemporary marketing. Consider the success of the personalised Coca-Cola bottle, or the multi-million-pound budget channelled into bespoke digital marketing. If it isn’t bespoke, it isn’t of interest.

By now I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘great – I’ll just change my entire offering then, that’s not going to work’. Thankfully the answer is a little less revolutionary than that. Whilst your product or service may not be bespoke, your approach to selling it can be.

The real priority for small businesses is to position their products or services as being able to offer a solution. Where historically you may have quickly jumped to tell your prospective buyer the benefits of what you have to offer. It is more important now than ever, that you adopt a more considered approach.

Before jumping into your sales pitch, get to know your customer’s needs. What are the issues they are facing, what is it they want from your product or services? This information is vital – whether you’re making a multi-billion-pound deal or selling a chocolate bar. If you don’t understand the needs of your customer, simply put, you don’t know what you’re selling.

Let’s take the chocolate bar as an example. Is your customer buying it as a treat? Are they buying it for a quick fix of energy? Are they buying it out of habit and feel guilty about the purchase? Ascertain the answer and you can adapt your sales approach accordingly. It’s the same chocolate bar you’ve sold a million times over, but you’re selling it to an individual – change your sales approach to accommodate their needs.

In a world that’s constantly changing and adapting to accommodate new technology, customers are becoming tiresome with feeling like a number.

Provide your clients with added value and a bespoke sales approach and your service will stand out from the crowd. It’s time to focus on the benefits of your product and make it relevant to your buyer.

If you want to hear more about how Huthwaite International can help your sales team increase business revenue, contact

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