Positive Business Intent is one of the most important assets a seller can leverage throughout the sales process. The point was driven home when, after announcing a career change, a client said to me, “With your departure, we’ll have to reevaluate our relationship with your company.”  The client went on to say that my approach of always putting his business first was the key reason they did business with me and my company.  I never forgot that lesson.

Building Positive Business Intent should be a goal with every one of your customer contacts. It’s a simple concept, but it’s not always easy to execute, especially for inexperienced sales reps. So how do you demonstrate Positive Business Intent? Fundamentally, it should be a key component to how you conduct business.

When I was selling, there were a few things I found helpful when trying to show my own Positive Business Intent. These techniques also proved effective as I tried to coach my own sales teams to consistently demonstrate it to customers.

1. Value-Based Business Conversation

value_based_meetingIn the value-based business conversation, your focus is on the customer. When I was selling, I was competitive. Who isn’t? I always walked into a prospect meeting wanting to win the opportunity. But, before I told them why my solution was better than the competition, I knew I needed to determine the required capabilities.

Sometimes that meant I needed to steer the prospect’s questions in a new direction. He/She may have started by asking me about my solution, but I knew that we needed to start our conversation with what they needed.

To show Positive Business Intent, you can’t start talking about your solution until you have a solid grasp of the“what and why” behind your customer’s requirements. Once you do, you can sharpen the opportunity based on the prospect’s value drivers and your differentiators.

Even though the new B2B buying process means your customer’s may be more educated than ever before, that doesn’t mean you can let go of the basics of selling value. You need to establish credibility and reliability with your customer. Part of being an audible-ready salesperson means you have to be ready to turn the conversation focus back on the customer, especially when that customer is only concerned about hearing price quotes. You won’t be able to effectively articulate your value and differentiation if you don’t truly understand the customer’s required capabilities. Focus on your customer needs, not on what you think the customer wants to hear.

2. Content that Points to Your Required Capabilities

checklist_resizedOne of the greatest pieces of content that I loved to share with a prospect, other than my proof points, of course, was a sample “Request For Proposal” that we shared with customers.

The sample RFP would outline key questions that similar customers needed to answer when they were making a particular purchase. These questions were client focused and were meant to offer value to the client. The RFP answered the following two, highly confident questions for us as a vendor:

1.  Are these topics/requirements that a client needs to consider in order to ensure success no matter which solution they choose?

2.  Are these presented in such a manner that the client doesn’t view this as my company pushing a feature of my product on them?

Built into the RFP sample were trap-setting questions pointed towards our differentiators as required capabilities. Including these questions was an obvious benefit to us, but only because we knew that these were critical discussion points that a client must consider to ensure success. I always asked our prospects, “What components of this questionnaire do you think you need to focus on the most?” Their answers would provide me more information about their requirements and those rows on the decision spreadsheet. Additionally, their answers would give me insight on other solutions they were reviewing or potentially saw as viable, allowing me to further demonstrate my customer focus and differentiation.

3. Build a Referral Network

peoplewithphonesI think the best way to build immediate credibility with an account is to gain access through a referral. Executives will take meetings with you if you are referred by someone they respect. The best way to get referrals is to leverage your current champions. Ask them for  the names of three individuals they think would benefit from your solutions/services.

You’ll build immediate credibility with the new prospect and and jump farther ahead in demonstrating your Positive Business Intent. Just remember, champions are first built on great proof points!

4. Proof Points

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I can’t hit the proof point drum enough. Proof points are one of the most valuable things you can show to a prospect. They demonstrate your value, differentiation and your Positive Business Intent.

If you aren’t introduced to an account through a referral, the second best way to build credibility is through proof points. Remember: today’s metrics and positive business outcomes are tomorrow’s proof points. Know the story behind them. Focus on them. Share them in a way that creates impact for your prospect.

Salespeople that truly command their message know how to effectively communicate their positive business intent throughout the sales process. No matter where your prospect is in the buying process, keep the conversation customer-focused. You’ll find yourself building a network of champions and repeat business.