If you’ve ever wondered how to close a sale, but then lost out to a competitor, you’ve pondered this question. “What did they have (that I didn’t)” ?

As it turns out, it’s not so much about what they have, but about what they do. Specifically, what sales winners do differently is this: they bring a radically different approach to the entire sales process. From start to finish.

What Sales Winners Do Differently

Let me walk you through the 2 most important factors sales winners do differently – and introduce a third one, which if you use it will put the entire process on steroids.

#1 – “Educated me with new ideas and perspectives”

The #1 factor buyers say sales winners do differently that helps them close a sale is bringing (truly) new ideas and perspectives to the table. Note the parentheses around truly: it’s not just about echoing commonly held “wisdom” or bringing up a point of view from the latest HBR-research. It’s about bringing an exciting, fresh perspective to the table that was previously unknown or unconsidered by the buyer.

In my experience, the higher up you sell, the more this becomes a crucial point of distinction. Senior executives and the C-suite in particular are constantly searching for innovative perspectives that can give them an edge in the marketplace.

Stuck on how to close a sale  by educating with new ideas and perspectives ? Consider the following questions as a guideline:

  • How you can redefine the problem in ways your buyer never even considered ?
  • Which angles or issues can you bring up that they probably overlooked ?
  • How can you “go against the grain” and counter popular wisdom ?
  • How can you solve an existing problem in new and more efficient ways ?
  • How can you package your offering so it truly stands out from competitors ?
  • How to help your buyer see their intended solution will not solve their problem ?

The last question especially is crucial, because it addresses several of the Top–10 factors buyers reported sales winners do differently. Download your copy of the research to find out which ones.

#2 – “Collaborated with me.”

Stop thinking only about how to close a sale. True sales winners think more like high-end management consultants than salespeople. Rather than “find the pain”, they work on defining the problem (or opportunity) so it becomes crystal clear – and then work with the buyer to find the most effective and efficient way of solving it.

Senior executives and buyers are not looking for yet another vendor to come in and promise them the heavens – only to underdeliver. They are looking for smart, experienced and accessible (yet another one of the Top–10 factors) counterparts who will collaborate with them – challenging their thinking where needed – in developing the best solution for their particular needs.

So next time you’re in the meeting room, think whiteboard. Not Powerpoint.

Remember that #3 factor I hinted at ?

The one that would put the entire process on steroids ?

Here it is: combine “educating your buyer with new ideas and perspectives” with “collaborating with them”. Senior executive buyers are always looking for people that are willing and able to help them think through the myriad existing problems they face in new and exciting ways, and working together on developing solutions to the table they could have never come up with by themselves (or, for that matter, using internal resources).

Do that enough and for long enough, and you’ll gain that most coveted status.

Trusted advisor.