I 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 >>