Why is it that some sales people seem to be able to start an engaging sales conversation with a ‘cold’ prospect, and win a next conversation easily (or at least a clear future), while others struggle to keep the prospect on the phone for even ten seconds?
The answer is simple but not easy.
It’s not just what they say. It’s what they say, and, how they say it. Transactional sales professionals who are prepared with scripts about themselves and the products they sell fail to resonate with the prospective buyer, who probably didn’t want to be interrupted in the first place. Transformational sellers, on the other hand, who focus in that first call on making a connection with the PERSON on the other end of the phone, have higher level conversations and accomplish more as a result.
There is another difference between these two types of sales professionals: The circle of competence is quite shallow for the transactional seller. They typically know a whole lot about products, competition, and their employer’s organization, but would be challenged to share the ways they can actually help the buyer with their most pressing (relevant) business problems. If you’re a modern sales professional with an expansive circle of competence, you’re playing a bigger game and things are different. The buyer feels it.
Modern sales professionals tap into their expansive knowledge to move through the buyer’s process – qualifying for fit and ready, discovery and demonstrations; negotiations, closing deals, and post-sale customer engagements – with ease, because they stay focused on outcomes, not process.
The more they learn about their buyers – the context of the organization, the PERSONA, and the person, and the more they focus on outcomes while practicing these higher-level conversations, the better they get.
The modern sales professional develops a framework for humansentricTM outcomes with each phase of the buying journey: Make a connection; build emotional equity; drive preference for themselves, their solutions and their organizations across all stakeholders; build trust.
They learn to differentiate obstacles from deal show-stoppers and treat them as such. They help their buyers make better decisions because they have co-created the vision and are invested in best outcomes. They tackle problems as they come, not hoping they go away, because they never do go away and they often sabotage us, instead. The more deals they get into and win, the more they know for the next buyer to help them win and be successful. This is the way to continually expand the circle of competence.
Think back to the deals you’ve been involved in or think even further back to some of the first sales conversations you had with prospective buyers. Perhaps you remember what it is to stumble through prospecting and fall flat on your face. Or, if by some small chance not of your own making, you got invited into a deal but never really got traction – it was friction-filled, up and down, you’re in, you’re out, – wait for it – you’re back in, but you never really knew how or why.
But, if you picked yourself up and dusted off the product speak for the next deal – and decided to focus on these vital outcomes – making a connection … building trust – this led to the next phase and to the next phase – and eventually you won the deal – you’re hooked and you wanted more of that.
Having a deliberate strategy for orchestrating intentional outcomes is what modern sales professionals do that separates them head and shoulders above the rest. But most sales people are not driven by outcomes; they are driven by (and constrained by) processes.
For us to improve at the sales craft, it is vital to develop skills, habits and disciplines that continue to expand our circle of competence, practice (and practice, and practice) these skills to retain them so that eventually we are transformed – it comes natural and easy.
First, let’s clear up some common misconceptions about the modern sales craft. Here’s what I know:
- Quality matters more than quantity.If we have five high-level conversations a week, meaningful buyer exchanges, we will quickly surpass the skills of someone who makes 100 calls a week to talk product and solutions or who is following a script to get an appointment. (Look, we know this might not be a popular idea with management, but it’s true. Just get good enough through practice where you can have fifty meaningful conversations per week).
- Yes, you have to practice. The only way to get better is to practice with colleagues, peers, the boss.
- Sales Training is not the answer: Skills development is.
- We don’t need to read massive amounts every day, but we must read most days to expand our circle of competence and before we will resonate relevancy.
- We won’t get invited into and win every deal, but when we focus on the outcomes with every interaction and conversation, we’ll get into more deals and win more and more of our deals.
Want to learn more about developing the modern sales professional? Download our free white paper “Resonating Relevancy – Client Acquisition 3.0, Trends and Winning Moves for Developing the Modern Sales Professional.”