Today's connected consumer, a boundary-defying social phenomenon that blurs the lines between consumers, corporate buyers and other external and internal stakeholders, demands highly personalized products and services customized to individual needs. That's why connected consumers are saying enough to:

  • Impersonal engagements

  • Pushy interactions

  • Scripted up-selling

When salespeople utilize strategies that focus more on closing deals and less on authentic relating and personalized service, they compromise their personal integrity, their clients' trust, and their brand's reputation. Clearly, there's got to be a better way. Fortunately, in their latest book, Same Side Selling, co-authors Ian Altman and Jack Quarles map a clear, practical path into an entirely different kind of sales territory.

The new metaphor: Selling is a puzzle, not a game

The most widely used metaphors in sales are those related to sports, battle or games. The problem with this mindset is that it rests on the assumption that buyers and sellers are adversaries, and that for one to win, the other must lose. But in  Same Side Selling, Altman and Quarles overturn this assumption by introducing us to a new metaphor -- one that puts buyers and sellers on the same side. Sales, they show us, is less like an adversarial game and more like a collaborative puzzle.

As someone who believes that making personalized, authentic connections is not only the right thing to do but also the most effective way to reach, engage, and retaining the modern, empowered connected consumer, Same Side Selling is an invaluable guide. It's one of those rare "business books" that not only empowers you to seriously up your sales game but also inspires you to be a better person. To give you a taste of what I'm talking about, here's a quick overview of the lessons you'll learn from Same Side Selling. (Though, trust me, read the book cover-to-cover: it will give you the practical tools you need to take your selling to a whole new level.)

1. Stop playing games

With conventional sales methods, buyers and sellers get caught in adversarial games that pit one against the other. The Same Side Selling method, in contrast, puts the buyer and seller on the same side of the table. This shift in mindset helps you to recognize buyer and seller as two people working together to assemble a puzzle (How can we work together to find a solution?), rather than essentially competing against each other (How can I overcome my client's objections?).

2. Be unique

Collaborative selling is all about differentiation. Even if you're selling something that's similar to other products or services on the market, you can be unique in the value you offer by using the Same Side pitch (a clear explanation of the problem the seller addresses and a resolution that gives hope to the right prospects). For example, conventional sales-speak would be: "We're a company that provides IT outsourcing services." A Same Side pitch would be: "Companies come to us when they invest a large budget into their IT team but still wonder if they're keeping up with technology. By taking this concern off their plate, we help them focus on their core business."

3. Narrow the market

Don't spend too much of your time and energy pursuing subpar opportunities. Effective qualification begins with understanding why a prospect would buy. Same Side Selling offers the questions and tools necessary to help you get to that "why" quickly.

4. Get to the truth ASAP

When a seller jumps ahead to prescriptive selling without assessing urgency and readiness, a seemingly hot prospect can turn into a costly pursuit. Shorten the sales cycle by getting to the truth in a way that allows you to determine which prospects to move forward with.

5. Be an educator

Simply providing information doesn't mean that you're giving a buyer the education they need. Learn how to educate buyers effectively and how to determine the difference between offering necessary information and free consulting.

6. Focus on the fit

Details can sometimes overshadow your message and distract from the overall value of the process. During meetings with potential prospects, capture the right information and keep the discussion on the larger value-proposition and big picture.

7. Don't force the fit

Pushing a deal forward even when it's not a great fit can result in short-term pain and impede long-term growth. Practicing restraint when the sale isn't right for the buyer is the best long-term strategy. It can also be a useful selling tool.

8. Sell value, not price

Despite sales people having good relationships and processes in place, they may still find themselves combatting a "low bid win" mentality. Free buyers from a fixation on the purchase price by putting the initial purchase price into the context of longer-term costs, helping them see the larger value of their purchase.

9. Deliver impact

A signed contract never means that you've reached the finish line. The deal isn't done until the client has realized the outcome and value that propelled their purchase in the first place.

The principles you'll learn in Same Side Selling apply to any situation where you're required to "sell." Whether you're trying to sell a product or service to a prospect, a new idea or initiative to your organization, a political candidate to your community, your resume to an employer, or simply a home-improvement to your spouse, Same Side Selling can help you do it with integrity and effectiveness. By giving us a new metaphor for understanding and approaching sales, we can replace the adversarial model with a collaborative one that makes sense both in business and in life.