Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are listeners: they listen carefully to what their prospects and customers say instead of waiting for their turn to speak."

Tag: pain

5 Sales Success Tips By A Multi-Decade Sales Professional

5 Sales Success Tips By A Multi-Decade Sales Professional

My good friend, Dean Wiener, published the following post on LinkedIn about some of the “secrets” to his success over many decades. He was kind enough to allow me to embed his post into this article.

Let’s explore each of these items in a bit more detail.

1. I attach my solution to a big problem/pain/goal.

As a salesperson, it is your job to understand your prospect’s needs and offer a solution that meets those needs. However, simply offering a product or service is not enough. You also must demonstrate how your solution can address a specific problem the prospect is facing. Doing so will make you much more likely to close the sale.

Attaching your solution to a goal the prospect wants to achieve has several benefits.

  • First, it helps you to focus on the most critical aspects of your product or service.
  • Second, it allows you to position your solution as the best possible option for solving the problem.
  • Third, it makes it more likely that the prospect will take action and buy from you.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for problems.

First, ensure that you are addressing the prospect’s real problem. If you try to attach your solution to a problem that does not exist, or one that is not relevant to the prospect, you will not be successful. This is why I suggest that salespeople look for company goals to attach to rather than simply looking for problems. By looking for goals, you can be confident that the company will devote resources to achieving the goal. They may choose to live with a problem because other problems are more immediate or damaging. A stated goal that they want to solve that problem ensures that resources are applied to the problem.

Second, clearly explain how your solution can solve the problem. The more specific and detailed you can be, the better.

Third, ensure your pricing is aligned with the market’s expectations. If your prices are too high, prospects will be hesitant to buy from you. But if they are too low, they may not perceive your solution as valuable enough to solve their problem.

Finally, attaching your solution to a big problem is just one part of the sales process. You also need to build rapport with the prospect, establish trust, and address any objections they may have. If you can do all those things, you will be much more likely to close the sale.

Start by attaching your solution to the prospect’s most significant problem or goal to increase sales. This will help you focus on the most critical aspects of your product or service and position your solution as the best possible option for solving the problem. Just remember to focus on real issues that prospects are facing, and be sure to explain how your solution can solve those problems clearly and concisely. Do all of this, and you’ll be well on closing more sales than ever!

2. Early and consistent engagement with the decision maker

To be successful, salespeople need to have early and consistent engagement with the decision maker. This statement may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many salespeople make the mistake of trying to engage with the decision maker too late in the process. By then, it’s often too late to turn the tide and win the sale.

Why Is Early Engagement Important?

Salespeople who engage with the decision maker early on in the process are more likely to build a relationship of trust and respect. This is because they can establish themselves as a credible source of information and insights from the very beginning.

Early on, engaging with the decision maker also allows salespeople to better understand their needs, wants, and pain points. This, in turn, allows them to tailor their pitch in a way that will be most relevant and resonant with the decision maker.

Finally, early engagement allows salespeople to establish themselves as trusted advisors. Being there from the very beginning, the salesperson can help guide the decision maker through every step of the process and ensure that they’re making well-informed decisions.

Why Is Consistent Engagement Important?

Once you’ve established early engagement with the decision maker, it’s essential to maintain that engagement throughout the entire process. This means following up regularly, keeping them updated on your progress, and proactively addressing any concerns or questions they may have.

Consistent engagement reassures the decision maker that they made the right choice in working with you and instills confidence in your ability to deliver on your promises. It also allows you to continue building trust and rapport, which are essential for maintaining a good working relationship.

3. A strong and effective champion selling on my behalf

A Champion is not a coach (although the Champion might give advice). Champions have influence and may have power. Regardless of power, champions have respect among the top decision-makers. The ultimate Champion says, “I will quit if we don’t buy this product.”

You can have more than one Champion, but the Champion must be loyal. It is not just about achieving the goal but about achieving the goal with your product.

Every single purchase ever made in a business had a champion. Since salespeople are rarely present during the final decision when the Decision Group is asking, “Is everyone ready to buy this product?” the Champion is the person that says, “We should buy this product from that vendor to achieve the goal of the company.” Someone always makes that statement; therefore, there is always a champion for every B2B purchase. The issue is that you may not know your Champion.

Champions are respected stakeholders within your prospect’s business who meet very distinct criteria:

  • They have power and influence (power and influence are non-negotiable)
  • They are selling internally for you
  • They have a vested interest in your success

If your Champion has the other two qualifying criteria but is without power and influence, they are a Coach, not a Champion. Whereas you can work with your potential Champion to help them sell internally for you and to have a vested interest in your success, power and influence are non-negotiable. If they lack it, you can’t change this factor, and you will need to find a true Champion. 

Selling Internally is easily identifiable.

Often sellers think it is not easy to identify if their Champion is selling internally for them, but it is easy. You ask your Champion: “Has our solution come up in discussions with other stakeholders?” If it hasn’t, then this is a red flag for your deal, but if it has, then it is vital to understand how your Champion acted in the discussions. 

  • Did they talk about your solution positively?
  • Did they stick up for your solution if anyone had any criticisms? 

You can find out the answers to these questions by asking your Champion. 

Having a vested Interest doesn’t mean bias.

For a Champion to have a vested interest in your success, your solution’s value must align with your Champions’ goals. This can mean your solution will solve your Champion’s problem, making their job more manageable, or they’ll get a bonus or promotion. 

Having a vested interest doesn’t necessarily mean a bias towards your or your company—quite the contrary. Your Champion will lose credibility if they are seen to be biased.

4. Clear/differentiated solution tied to value/metrics

If you’re in sales, you know that the competition is fierce. To succeed, you must ensure that your selling effort has a clear and differentiated solution tied to your product’s value. In other words, your product needs to offer something unique that sets it apart from the competition and provides value to customers.

A value proposition is a statement that outlines the unique solution that your product offers and the benefits that come with it. Value propositions are essential for any sales effort. For a value proposition to be compelling, it needs to be clear, concise, and tailored to the specific needs of your target customer. It should also be differentiated from the competition so that customers can see why your product is the better option.

A compelling value proposition will do more than list the features of your product; it will also address the pain points of your target customer and show them how your product can provide a solution. For example, if you’re selling a new type of software, your value proposition might address the need for a more user-friendly interface or faster performance. Whatever it is, make sure your value proposition is clear and easy for customers to understand.

Once you have a compelling value proposition, you must ensure it’s communicated throughout your entire sales process. This means using it in your marketing materials, such as website copy, brochures, and email campaigns. It should also be incorporated into your sales pitch so that potential customers can see how your product can solve their specific problems. By communicating your value proposition throughout the entire sales process, you’ll be able to increase closes rates and win over more business.

An effective selling effort must have a clear and differentiated solution tied to the product’s value. This solution must be communicated throughout the entire sales process to increase conversions and win over more business. If you’re unsure where to start, begin by creating a powerful value proposition that addresses the specific needs of your target customer. From there, make sure to use it in all of your marketing materials and sales pitches so that potential customers can see how your product can help them solve their specific problems. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to success in no time!

5. Committed compelling event (go-live) with a date attached.

To close a sale, salespeople must identify a specific event that will incentivize the prospect to purchase. This event is known as a “compelling event.” Without a compelling event, the prospect has no reason to act now and may never act.

Compelling events can take many different forms. For example, a prospect might face an impending deadline, such as the end of a fiscal year or the expiration of a limited-time offer. Or, a prospect might be experiencing pain points that your product or service can address. By understanding the prospects’ needs and identifying a compelling event, salespeople can close more deals and drive revenue for their company.

Types of Compelling Events

As we mentioned before, compelling events can take many different forms. Some common types of compelling events include:

  • An impending deadline: This could be the end of a fiscal year, the expiration of a limited-time offer, or any other time-sensitive issue.
  • Pain points: Is the prospect experiencing problems that your product or service can solve? If so, addressing those pain points can be an influential motivating factor.
  • A change in circumstances: Has the prospect recently changed their business (e.g., they’ve merged with another company, acquired, etc.) that has created new needs? If so, your product or service may be able to fill those needs.
  • Competition: Is another company trying to win over the same prospect? Positioning yourself as the better option can create a sense of urgency and help you close the deal.

Identifying Compelling Events

So how do you go about identifying a compelling event? There are four key steps you can take:

  1. Research the prospect: Start by doing your homework on the prospect. In addition to basic research like reviewing their website and social media presence, try to find out as much as possible about their specific circumstances. The more you know about them, the better positioned you’ll be to identify a compelling event. This research may require talking to others in their organization or conducting secondary analysis (e.g., reading industry reports).
  2. Build relationships: Once you’ve done your research, reach out and build relationships with key decision-makers at the target organization. The goal is to get to know them personally and understand their specific needs and challenges. The better you know them, the easier it will be to identify a compelling event.
  3. Listen carefully: When talking to decision-makers, ensure you’re really listening to what they’re saying (and not saying). Pay attention to both their words and their body language; they may give you clues as to what’s really on their mind. Frequently, prospects will provide you with information that will help you identify a compelling event without even realizing it.
  4. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions that will help you uncover someone’s real needs and motivation for buying. For example, you might ask them what their top priorities are for the next fiscal year or what challenges they’re facing hampering their ability to achieve their goals. By asking tough questions, you’ll be able to get to the heart of what’s important to them and identify potential compelling events.

Compelling events are essential for closing sales; without them, prospects have no reason to act now and may never act. By understanding prospects’ needs and identifying a compelling event, salespeople can drive revenue for their company and close more deals. There are many compelling events—deadlines, pain points, changes in circumstances, and competition—and salespeople must identify the right one for each individual. Researching prospects, building relationships with decision-makers, listening carefully, and asking probing questions are all great ways to uncover someone’s real motivations and identify potential compelling events.”

Header Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash
If You Don’t Have Five Reasons To Buy Then Take It Off Your Forecast

If You Don’t Have Five Reasons To Buy Then Take It Off Your Forecast

I am always amazed that so many VPs of Sales do not interrogate their teams on the “needs gap” during pipeline review meetings.

A prospect’s “needs gap” is the difference between where the prospect wants to be (their goal) and where they are. The more significant that difference, the more likely the deal will get funded.

If a team cannot identify five reasons why the prospect has a gap between where s/he is and where s/he wants to be, there is a high likelihood that there will not be an order. You need to take it off the Commit List and put it on the Upside List. Organizations do not buy because of pain (“I wish we didn’t have to deal with this problem”); they invest because they want to change their situation – a “needs gap” between where they are and where they want to be (“We absolutely need to do this so that we can achieve nirvana”).

In a business-to-business (B2B) sale, there are many decision-makers. You need to have five reasons for a deal to happen so that one or two of those reasons don’t get killed by someone else in the organization. Your risk is that the one remaining reason to buy from you may not be enough. However, your risk is much higher if you depend on only one positive outcome to justify a purchase.

As depicted in the below image, not all of the reasons will be equally important. That is fine. The important thing is that you have at least five reasons to buy from you.

You should have at least five reasons why your prospect is going to buy from you

When people decide to spend their own (or their company’s) money, they do so because their goals do not align with their reality. They wish that they were in a different situation. Their desire to be in that situation is acute enough that they are willing to invest their time and money to get closer to that goal.

Many people discuss ‘pain’ as the reason that people buy. This belief is not entirely true. Pain is the result of not realizing goals. Therefore, ‘pain’ is a ‘lagging indicator’ of the situation. In a competitive situation where there are no Trappers, pain may be a tremendous driving force. Trappers try to get ahead of the problem and drive the buyer into a conducive situation to win the order. If you wait for ‘pain’ to occur, you run the risk of involving many more competitors and being much later in the sales process. Instead, you want to control the process, which means that you want to discuss the goals of both the organization and the individual people.

Pain is the result of unrealized goals.

In addition to ‘pain’ being a secondary and lagging situation, it also has very negative connotations. It is much harder to discuss an individual’s ‘pains’ than discussing the individual’s goals. Goals have a very positive feel and therefore make you a valued partner to the prospect.

A similarity from your everyday life: if you have knee pain, you may see a doctor. You and your insurance company will likely give the doctor money to cure that pain; the transaction does not give you a positive feeling about the doctor. You never had a goal of having surgery or physical therapy – it is more of a necessary evil. 

Another example is that you may have a goal of getting into shape and losing weight and, therefore, joining the local gym. You are more likely to develop a long-term friendship with that gym and its employees. You will likely have a better feeling about the gym than your doctor in the paragraph above, even though you may give them much more money over the term of your membership. The people working in the gym help you get to your goal, whereas the doctor is solving a problem or a ‘pain.’

Pain means that something is broken. It causes a negative feeling. While it may be prevalent in this age of social media to whine and complain about broken things, it does not create excitement or enjoyment. The excitement only comes when you are trying to achieve a goal.

The athletes on your favorite sports team don’t work hard in practice because they want to avoid the pain of losing. Instead, they work hard because they want to win. Winning is the goal. The desire to accomplish a goal allows everyone to be motivated and work hard. Talking about pain with an athlete is to talk about losses, strenuous practices, and injury. The athlete is much more motivated talking about the game wins and the plans to win the next games. The same is true with your prospect.

Pain is also not the reason to choose one product over another. Pain may justify the purchase, or it may start an evaluation process. If all the reviewed products solve the problem, then ultimately, price and ‘terms and conditions’ will be the deciding factors. However, most evaluations are more concerned about goals and achieving those goals. If your pain is that you have a broken TV, then any TV should solve your pain. Suppose your goal is to watch sporting events and feature films on the best-looking and best-sounding audiovisual system on the market. In that case, your list may be more detailed.

Similarly, suppose your pain is that you cannot get to work in the morning. In that case, hundreds of automobiles and some public transportation options will solve your problem. If you have a goal of getting to work in a sporty red convertible, you will eliminate many of those choices. In that case, you need a car salesperson to help you meet your goals. You will also pay more for attaining your goals than just solving your pain. 

The chosen product will match the goals of the prospect, not just the pains of the prospect.

In sales, we can use this to our benefit. We will center our initial questioning and needs development with our prospect on goals and the ability (or inability) to reach those goals. By doing this with the Discoverer (a role that we will discuss later in the book), we have the advantage of being a long-term and trusted ally. As the sales process evolves, other vendors are brought in to ascertain their possible remedies. Still, the prospect sees them as solutions to a problem (pain) that you have helped them identify because their reality was not the same as their goal. You, on the other hand, are a trusted confidant who only has their best interest at heart, and you are willing to guide them as they explore their goals.

The key points to remember are that you need to go after the prospect’s goals and document at least five reasons why you can help the company achieve those goals. One reason is not enough. The more reasons that you have, the more likely the deal will close in your favor.

Header Photo by Icons8 Team (Unsplash)

10 Things Sales Managers Should Know About Performance

10 Things Sales Managers Should Know About Performance

The following are key statistics every smart sales manager should know. The source of the following data is TAS Group which is now Altify, part of Upland Software.

  1. 2/3 of all salespeople miss quota
  2. 1/2 of all salespeople close at less than 40% of their quota
  3. The best reps are 250% better at qualifying leads
  4. 40% of salespeople can’t understand customer pain
  5. Only 46% of reps feel their pipeline is accurate
  6. Almost 1/2 of all sales teams don’t have a playbook
  7. Only 52% of salespeople can access key players at their prospects and customers
  8. When Sales/Marketing works well together, it adds 25% quota achievement and 15% win rate
  9. As I talk about in my book Eliminate Your Competiton if you make your response to your competitors part of your strategy, you are 39% more likely to be a high performing salesperson.
  10. Sales contribution to company strategy means a 15% revenue increase
Header Photo by PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)

Focus on unrealized goals with your prospects and not pain

Focus on unrealized goals with your prospects and not pain

During my recent podcast with Colin Stewart of Predictable Revenue, I discussed the concept that people do not buy from pain but rather from missed goals. I want to build on that topic in this post as it is a critical concept in your thought process.

When people make a decision to spend their own (or their company’s) money, they do so because their goals do not align with their reality. They wish that they were in a different situation and their desire to be in that situation is acute enough that they are willing to invest their time and their money to get closer to that goal.

Many people discuss ‘pain’ as the reason that people buy. This belief is not entirely true. Pain is the result of not realizing goals. Therefore, ‘pain’ is a ‘lagging indicator’ of the situation. In a competitive situation where there are no Trappers, pain may be a good driving force. Trappers try to get ahead of the situation and drive the buyer into a situation that is conducive to them winning the order. If you wait for ‘pain’ to occur, you run the risk of involving many more competitors and being much later in the sales process. Instead, you want to control the process, which means that you want to discuss the goals of both the organization and the individual people.

In addition to ‘pain’ being a secondary and lagging situation, it also has very negative connotations. It is much harder to discuss an individual’s ‘pains’ than it is to discuss the individual’s goals. Goals have a very positive feel and therefore make you a valued partner to the prospect. 

A similarity from your everyday life: if you have knee pain then you may see a doctor. While you and your insurance company will likely give the doctor money to cure that pain, it does not give you a positive feeling about the doctor – it is more of a necessary evil. However, you may have a goal of getting into shape and losing weight and therefore join the local gym. You are more likely to develop a long-term friendship with that gym and its employees even though you may give them much more money over the term of your membership. The people who are working in the gym are helping you get to your goal whereas the doctor is solving a problem or a ‘pain.’

Pain means that something is broken. It is a negative. While it may be common in this age of social media to whine and complain about broken things, it does not create a feeling of excitement or enjoyment. The excitement only comes when you are trying to achieve a goal.

The athletes on your favorite sports team don’t work hard in practice because they want to avoid the pain of losing. Instead, they work hard because they want to win. Winning is the goal. The desire to accomplish a goal allows everyone to be motivated to work hard. Talking about pain with an athlete is to talk about losses, hard practices, and injury. The athlete is much more motivated talking about the game wins and the plans to win the next games. The same is true with your prospect.

Pain is also not the reason to choose one product over another. Pain may justify the purchase, or it may start an evaluation process. If all the products solve the pain, then ultimately price and ‘terms and conditions’ will be the deciding factors. However, most evaluations are more concerned about goals and achieving those goals. In my book, I give an example of buying a TV, if your pain is that you have a broken TV then any TV should solve your pain. If your goal is to watch sporting events and feature films on the best-looking and best-sounding audiovisual system on the market, then your list may be more detailed and more demanding. 

Similarly, if your pain is that you cannot get to work in the morning, then hundreds of automobiles, along with some public transportation options, will solve your problem. If you have a goal of getting to work in a sporty red convertible, you will eliminate many of the choices, and the car salespeople must help you meet your goals.

The chosen product will match the goals of the prospect, not just the pains of the prospect.

In sales, we can use this to our benefit. We will center our initial questioning and needs development with our prospect on goals and the ability (or inability) to reach those goals. By doing this with the Discoverer (a role that we discuss more in my book, Eliminate Your Competition), we have the advantage of being a long-term and trusted ally. As the sales process evolves, other vendors are brought in to ascertain their possible remedies, but the prospect sees them as solutions to a problem (pain) that you have helped them identify because their reality was not the same as their goal. You, on the other hand, are a trusted confidant who only has their best interest at heart and you are willing to guide them as they explore their goals.

If you are curious about some of the terms that I use in this post, you may want to read my book. You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Photo by Tumisu (Pixabay)
The Ten Things Sales Manager Need To Understand About Sales Performance

The Ten Things Sales Manager Need To Understand About Sales Performance

Knowledge is power! Having access to the best available information is a vital aspect of almost any operation, but especially important in the competitive sales environment. The following are key statistics every smart sales manager should know…

Header Photo by typographyimages (Pixabay)