In a previous B2B sales role I was "taught" to follow a specific sales process. My manager and peers encouraged it because this was the way it was always done. As a team player, I followed what they said.
I was getting initial meetings but no follow-ups. Maybe I was making mistakes? It had to be my fault. I was doing everything on the checklist and in the right order. Then I looked closer at what was happening.
Since I was coming from outside the industry with a different perspective, I could see that the buyers I was working with didn't respond the way they should have, like they do when they are actually being helped.
So I did what most salespeople do, I went rogue. I looked at the buyer and their situation and just asked them what needed to happen to align our solution with their needs?
And a miracle happened: they told me. That is when the selling actually started.
Those who have control are the ones who determine the process.
When you control all the variables, like in manufacturing, cooking, or construction - processes work great. When other people control some or most of the variables, then alternatives are needed.
In sales, all success comes from aligning the way you sell to the way buyers buy. Everything you do, must be tied to the buyer's buying process.
The buying process is complex. Every stakeholder has a mission and goal. Your job in sales is to help each stakeholder accomplish and then exceed their mission.
In sales, systems are better than processes.
Some salespeople sell better than others. Yet, it is not the process they use. It is the system.
Yes, the best ones follow a system. Systems are flexible while processes aren't. Not always in the same order, the system they follow is pretty clear across any industry. The sales rep must be able to:
Talk to the Right People
Understand The Pain and Goals
Explain and Differentiate Value
Provide a Map of/to the Future
Most salespeople can do a few of these things. If you can do all five things well, you can create almost unlimited new business.
The only way to make a difference is to know what your client cares about.
Since time is scarce, clients/partners need to have a reason to spend their valuable time with you. You must give a reason to engage.
In order to give them a compelling reason to engage, you must be able to answer these two questions:
What does your customer care about?
Why do they care?
You must be able to to give them their "WHY".
Inertia "steals" more deals than your competition ever will. Helping others change is why salespeople have jobs. Change is hard. Customers must not only have a need and desire; they must be shown the path forward as well.
The main value sales professionals bring is clarity and connection. You connect the dots while adding insights. You challenge and push. You help the customer become better because they have new tools, new information, and new ways of thinking.
The best sales people give the buyer a reason to care with a map to get there.
The ultimate reason, the "WHY", is created by connecting your solution to a specific business objective.
This is hard. You must know the business. You must ask the right questions. You must take many pieces of information and put it together, create a map, and draw out a logical conclusion. Then you must help others see the same vision that you have just created.
To become the best and align with buyers, you need to go deeper.
A good sales rep doesn't just sell, they explore.They are more curious than anyone else.
The best sales reps are true hybrids: it is about being curious and knowledgeable.
Curiosity is driven by care and concern.
If you don't possess these three traits, stop selling now (or develop them):
- Desire to understand
- Listening skills with intent to understand
- Ability to connect understanding with relevant solutions
The deeper you go, the more you will find. Go deep so you can help more.
As you focus on the client, everyone starts to win.
When the client accomplishes their goals, everyone wins. Think about what they need.
The ability to connect the customer's pain to a viable solution opens doors. The strategic skill it takes to make sure that the solution gets buy-in and the journey to get there is shown and followed are the skills that separate the best from the rest.
Every salesperson has struggles. When you stop focusing on yourself, on your company, and your product - you end up struggling a lot less.