What Sales Winners Do Differently

What Sales Winners Do DifferentlyI got really annoyed at a book last year.

Stupid really. The book was The Challenger Sale and there’s a lot of good stuff in it. It echoes a lot of the things I’ve been saying about how our clients are changing and how that impacts the way we need to market and sell (Check out The Top 3 Reasons You Lose Sales for example).

But here’s what annoyed me…

The book took an “everything has changed so everything that’s ever been said about sales before is wrong” stance. Worse still, they proceeded to mis-characterise things like consultative and relationship selling as “good ‘ol boy backslapping” (doesn’t sound like any good professional-client relationship I know).

Their goal in this, I assume, was that by saying “everything that’s gone before is wrong” you’d go out and buy their book.

And so I got annoyed. What could have been great insight and advice became misleading – causing many to drop a lot of the good sales practices they’d learnt over the years.

So when my friends at Raintoday sent me an advanced copy of their new report “What Sales Winners Do Differently” I opened it with a bit of trepidation. I wanted to like it, I like Mike and John and know they do good work. But would it tread the same risky path that Challenger went down?

“What Sales Winners Do Differently” starts out with research, just like Challenger. In this case it’s based on interviews with 700 odd buyers of business to business products and services worth over $3.1 billion dollars.

One of the key things the research did was compare buyer ratings of the winning salesperson (or professional in the case of services) and the guy or girl who came in second. They found a stark difference between the two.

You can read the details in the report here. But what I particularly noted was the top two characteristics of sales winners (which the #2s scored really quite badly on).

According to buyers, the #1 characteristics was that winners “educated me with new ideas or perspectives” and the #2 was that they “collaborated with me”.

So in other words, successful salespeople built both strong credibility and an effective collaborative relationship.

It’s not just about demonstrating insight and opening the eyes of your clients. They also have to see that they’ll be able to work with you. It’s not just challenging them (though that helps to bring insights) it’s also about giving them the confidence that you’ll get results together. It’s not just an academic “I’m smart”, it’s an emotional “I’m on your side”.

And here’s where the report works for me. While The Challenger Sales team claim that it’s “the end of solution sales” and that “selling is not about relationships”, the Raintoday team wisely show that successful sales approaches like consultative, solution and relationship selling haven’t suddenly and magically become obsolete. Those skills are still vital. We just need to add some new skills to the mix.

It’s an evolution, not a revolution. Something I wholeheartedly agree with.

To download a free copy of the report, click here >>

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Comments

  1. Paul Simister says

    Ian I also find it frustrating when someone wants to demolish the past rather than progressively build on it.

    It’s also interesting to see the two big findings. Earlier this week I finally reviewed the David Sandler book You Can’t Teach A Kid… and that preaches that you should stop acting as an unpaid consultant when selling.

    • says

      Paul, You got the point exactly. Unless there’s a massive innovation or change in the world, the past is usually something to build on, not dismiss.

      Curious to know what you mean about stopping acting as an unpaid consultant. Thoughts?

      Mike

  2. Paul Simister says

    I’m posting a link to my review of the book

    http://businessdevelopmentadvice.com/blog/you-cant-teach-a-kid-to-ride-a-bike-at-a-seminar-by-david-sandler/

    David Sandler argued that prospects want to know what the sales people know but don’t want to pay for the knowledge. They manipulate the sales person who finishes up as an unpaid consultant, spending a lot of time with a prospect who won’t convert.

    The advice is to “dummy up” and ask more questions about why the person wants to know.

    e.g. Mike, I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say you’re curious about the idea of not acting like an unpaid consultant? Why would you want to know that?

    It seems that the idea is to get information rather than giving it out.

    • says

      Hi Paul – I think the report aligns well with what you say in your review about you preferring to add value in the sales meeting rather than seeing every potential client as a sneaky liar trying to get free information!

    • says

      Paul,

      In some cases I agree, prospects can sometimes fish for free knoweldge and will then not buy. But it’s not always the case.

      One client of ours was working on buying something big. They asked for a lot up front, and were expecting to pay a couple of million dollars when they eventually bought.

      The company that won – one of the major management consulting firms – invested heavily in the process of wowing the our client with deep insight and ideas before they won the sale. The competitors didn’t, and the big firm won, beating out another big firm and two smaller firms.

      Another firm I know does a very valuable analysis for free. Regularly lands them 6 and 7 figure contracts.

      On the smaller side, I know of an account firm that invests quite a bit in giving specific kinds of advice before winning a client. Their close ratios are great.

      In this case – “free” advice – it’s not an all or nothing kind of thing. Of course, you can’t and shouldn’t do this everywhere, but while investing in a client by delivering a certain type of value up front can be risky, it can also be a great strategy.

      Best,

      Mike

  3. says

    Value First, Price Second. Sales strategies focused on giving value upfront lean heavily on strategic adviser-ship positioning, establishing trust and enabling crucial disclosure of key challenges sooner. You may not win them all, but experiential selling works incredibly well for most big ticket offerings.

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