Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are ambitious: they strive for personal and professional growth."

Month: September 2022

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
Sales Training is Crucial for Businesses

Sales Training is Crucial for Businesses

The sales profession is incredibly difficult, and failure is common. There is no profession (aside from marketing) where the expectations are so significantly missed. It is not unusual for 10-20% (or even 30%) of a sales team to not achieve their company-set goals. If accountants failed at that level, most companies would get fined by the SEC and the IRS. If product engineering failed at that level, the products we buy would constantly fail.

Some of this is the way that companies set their quotas. It is common practice that companies will set quota (i.e., the expectation of success) so that only 60-70% of the sales team achieves quota.

Doing sales training well could be significant. 37% of salespeople do not think their company can provide the techniques and training they need to be successful.

Salespeople are not typically trained in universities, with only 59 universities offering a major in sales. Comparing this to the above professions, accounting is offered in over 1,800 universities. This means that sales managers cannot rely on the university system to offer them quality candidates.

Universities Don’t Offer Sales Education, So Businesses Need to Offer It

It’s no secret that the traditional university education system is lagging behind when it comes to teaching students the skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace. As we can see above, this is no more evident than in the sales field. With the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and data analysis’s increasing importance, today’s salespeople need to be equipped with a more diverse skill set than ever before. However, universities fail to keep up with the times, leaving businesses to pick up the slack.

The Importance of Sales Education

To be successful, salespeople need to be able to understand and employ a wide range of skills, including but not limited to market analysis, lead generation, product knowledge, presentation skills, objection handling, and closing techniques. In addition, with the rise of digital marketing, many salespeople now need to be proficient in using various software platforms and tools such as Google Analytics, Hubspot, and Salesforce. The problem is that most universities don’t offer courses that adequately prepare students for a career in sales.

It’s no secret that businesses invest a lot of money in sales training to fill the gap of the lack of university-led training. In fact, U.S. companies spend over $70 billion annually on training and an average of $1,459 per salesperson — almost 20 percent more than they spend on workers in all other functions.

The Case for Businesses Offering Sales Education

Given the current state of affairs, businesses can’t afford to wait for universities to catch up; they need to take matters into their own hands and start offering sales education themselves. By doing so, they can ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills they need to be successful in today’s competitive marketplace. In addition, offering sales training can help businesses attract top talent and retain their best employees.

Universities aren’t doing enough to prepare students for careers in sales, so businesses need to step up and offer sales education themselves. By doing so, they can ensure that their employees have the skills they need to be successful in today’s competitive marketplace.

Sales training is crucial for businesses because it helps them close more deals, increases customer satisfaction, and grows revenue.

Here’s a closer look at each of these three benefits:

  1. Sales training helps businesses close more deals.
    Sales training gives salespeople the skills they need to succeed. When salespeople are properly trained, they’re more likely to understand their customers’ needs and pain points, know how to tackle objections, and have the confidence to close more deals.
  2. Sales training increases customer satisfaction.
    When salespeople are properly trained, they can provide potential customers with the information they need to make a purchasing decision. This leads to happy customers who are more likely to become repeat buyers and sing your company’s praises to their friends and family members.
  3. Sales training grows revenue.
    It’s no secret that businesses exist to make money. By investing in sales training, businesses can see a direct return on their investment in the form of increased revenue. Skilled salespeople mean more closed deals, which leads to a boost in the bottom line.

Effective sales training includes role-playing.

Role-playing is one secret ingredient that can make all the difference in sales training. Role-playing allows trainees to practice their new skills in a low-stakes environment by simulating real-world sales scenarios. Not only that, but role-playing also helps trainees to better understand their customers’ needs and how to best meet them.

Why Role-Playing Works

In a role-playing exercise, trainees are placed in simulated sales situations and must use what they’ve learned to succeed. This allows trainees to get a feel for using their new skills in the real world and helps them identify areas where they need further training. Additionally, trainees are more likely to retain the information they’ve learned by seeing firsthand how their newly learned skills can be applied.

Role-Playing Helps Trainees Understand Customers’ Needs

It can be difficult for trainees to understand customer needs if they’ve never been in a sales situation before. This is where role-playing comes in. By putting trainees in simulated sales situations, role-playing allows them to experience firsthand what it’s like to interact with customers and understand their needs. Additionally, by allowing trainees to try out different approaches, role-playing can help them determine which approach is most effective for meeting customer needs.

Role-Playing Builds Confidence

Another benefit of role-playing is that it helps build confidence. Sales can be daunting for anyone, especially if you’re new to the job. Role-playing allows trainees to build their confidence by practicing their sales skills in a safe and controlled environment. Additionally, role-playing allows trainees to get feedback from trainers and other participants to improve their performance and build up even more confidence.

Role-playing is essential to any successful sales training program because it allows trainees to put their new skills into practice in a low-stakes environment. Additionally, role-playing helps trainees understand customer needs and build confidence. If you’re looking for a way to improve your sales training program, then consider incorporating role-playing into your curriculum.

You may want to check out my article on maximizing your sales training budget. In that article, I list four ways to make sales training fit into your tight budget.

Sales training is essential for any business that wants to close more deals, increase customer satisfaction, and grow its revenue. If your company isn’t investing in sales training, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities — because you’re leaving money on the table!

Header Photo by Jeremy McGilvrey on Unsplash
Successful Salespeople Must Learn To Lead Or Follow In A Sales Situation

Successful Salespeople Must Learn To Lead Or Follow In A Sales Situation

When it comes to sales calls, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Some prospects want a salesperson who will confirm their existing thoughts and perceptions, while others are looking for someone who will challenge their assumptions and prescribe a new solution. The key is to be able to read the situation and adjust your approach accordingly.

If you sense that the prospect is resistant to new ideas, it may be best to focus on reaffirming their existing beliefs. However, if the prospect seems open to new possibilities, you’ll have an opportunity to introduce them to a solution they may not have known about. By being attuned to the prospect’s needs, you’ll be able to deliver a sales pitch that hits the mark.

What selling style do prospective buyers prefer? A survey by Harvard Business Review shows that 40% of study participants prefer a salesperson who listens, understands, and then matches their solution to solve a specific problem. Another 30% prefer a salesperson who earns their trust by making them feel comfortable because they will care for the customer’s long-term needs. Another 30% want a salesperson who challenges their thoughts and perceptions and then prescribes a solution they may not have known about.

A successful salesperson knows that the key to making a sale is understanding the prospect’s needs. The best way to do this is to ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Only then can the salesperson begin to match their solution to the specific problem the prospect is facing.

This process begins with identifying the need, which can be done through active listening and probing questions. Next, the salesperson must determine whether their product or service is a good fit for the need. If it is, they can then begin to present their solution to demonstrate how it will solve the prospect’s problem. By genuinely taking the time to understand the prospect’s needs, a salesperson can increase their chances of making a successful sale.

In any sales situation, building trust with the prospect is essential. This can be done in several ways, but one of the most important is to make the prospect feel comfortable. When a prospect feels at ease, they are more likely to be open to what you have to say. They will also be more likely to remember the interaction positively, which can help to build long-term relationships.

There are a few simple ways to make prospects feel comfortable.

  • First, use open body language and make eye contact.
  • Second, avoid controversial topics and steer clear of anything that might make the prospect feel uncomfortable.
  • Finally, be genuine in your interactions and take an interest in what the prospect says.

Anyone who’s ever been on a sales call knows that the key to a successful pitch is making a personal connection with the potential customer. One way to do this is through open body language. This means keeping your arms uncrossed and your hands visible.

It also means maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation. This shows that you’re interested in what the other person has to say and that you’re trustworthy.

Additionally, open body language can help put the other person at ease, making them more likely to listen to what you have to say.

It’s essential to be respectful of your prospect’s time and to stay on topic during a sales call. You should avoid anything that might make the prospect feel uncomfortable, or that could potentially be controversial. Stick to discussing the product or service you’re selling and trying to gauge the prospect’s level of interest.

Know when to lead the prospect

Some prospects want a salesperson who challenges their thoughts and perceptions during a sales call. They want someone who will listen to their needs and prescribes a solution they may not have known about. This type of challenge can help make a sale, but it can also be daunting for the salesperson. It requires them to understand the prospect’s needs and come up with a solution that meets them. Additionally, the salesperson must communicate the solution’s value effectively to the prospect. This can be a challenge, but it can be overcome with practice and understanding of the sales process.

The above-mentioned HBR article noted that under 20% of accounting and IT staffers want to be challenged from a departmental perspective, while 43% of the engineering department does. Over 50% of marketing and IT prefer a salesperson who will listen and match a solution to solve their specific needs. The sales department preferred having a salesperson listen and translate their needs and being challenged; HR was equally split across all three selling styles.

An interesting explanation for selling style preferences is based on whether the buyer is comfortable with conflict. 78% of participants who preferred a salesperson who would listen and solve their specific needs agreed with the statement: “I try to avoid conflict as much as I can.” Conversely, 64% of participants who preferred a salesperson who challenged their thoughts disagreed with the statement and were comfortable with conflict.

To be successful in sales, it’s crucial to be able to read your prospect and adjust your approach accordingly. Some prospects want a salesperson who will confirm their existing thoughts and perceptions, while others are looking for someone who will challenge their assumptions and prescribe a new solution. The key is to be able to read the situation and adjust your approach accordingly. When you can lead and compliment when appropriate, you’ll be well on your way to sealing the deal.

Header photo by Sora Shimazaki: