When it comes to what it takes to be successful in selling, everyone has an opinion. Some say it all comes down to prospecting, or generating leads. Others talk about how it’s all about closing skills. Or needs discovery. Social selling. Or wearing your lucky socks on pitch day.
But the truth is, there’s very little truly scientific evidence on what it takes to achieve sales success. In the research leading up to our book, “Insight Selling”, RAIN Group identified three key things successful sellers (sales winners) do differently compared to everyone else. Three things that makes buyers loosen up the purse strings and say “yes”.
#1. Great Sellers Connect.
The first secret of sales success that sales winners universally share is that they are able to connect – on two fundamental levels.
First, they connect with people. Not in an “oh my gosh, you mean you also like to play golf ?!” kinda way. It goes deeper than that. Great sellers deliver expertise, insights and business value in such a way that it builds strong relationships with buyers as valued peers and advisors. They build the personal relationships through delivering business value first.
But great sellers also make another kind of connection: they connect the dots. In particular, they are able to help a buyer see how their individual needs, desires, ambitions and goals connect directly to what the seller has to offer. In other words, they help a buyer see how their products and services are uniquely suited to solving the buyer’s problem (or help them achieve their goals).
In short, great sellers connect – but something else has to happen as well.
#2. Great Sellers Convince.
Making strong connections is not enough. In order to get buyers out of the status quo, and firmly on the path to taking action, great sellers know they have convince – on three levels.
First, they have to convince the buyer that they can actually achieve the results they claim, and that those results are worth the investment. Second, they have to convince the buyer they are uniquely positioned to help them (read: better than everybody else). Third, they have to convince the buyer they are not only the best choice, but they are also the least risky option out there.
Most sellers – naively – continue to believe that, if they are able to connect with a buyer (“build the relationship”), find a problem to solve (“find the pain”) and help them see how they will be able to help them (“present the solution”), they’ll close the sale. Great sellers understand that, in order to achieve sales success and get their buyer to take action, they have to take things one step further, and lay out a convincing case to buy from them.
#3. Great Sellers Collaborate.
On the talking versus listening spectrum, there are two schools of thought. First, you’ve got the “nature-gave-you-two-ears-and-one-mouth-for-a-reason” crowd. They believe that sellers should do mostly listening, let the buyer speak and ask great questions. Next, you’ve got the “seller-knows-best” crowd. They believe that the seller (consultant, auditor, lawyer, …) is the real expert, and buyers should let the seller “prescribe” the solution and follow their lead.
Both are right – and both are also wrong.
Let me explain. Think about your best friend/spouse/son/daughter. Now think about how you make important decisions together, like deciding where to go on holidays, or what restaurant to go to on Friday night. Do you listen to them ? Tell them what to do ? Ask question ? Tell them where you think you should go ?
Hopefully, the answer is “a little of both”.
That’s exactly how things should be with your buyer. With all the rules, guidelines, “best practices” and well-intended advice out there, we sometimes forget we’re dealing with other people. Not prospects. Not buyers. Not economic decision makers.
And people like a little bit of back and forth. People like feeling they were a part of something. They have a hand in crafting their own destiny. Making up their own minds.
In short, people like to collaborate.
Great sellers get that. Which is why they’re always looking for ways to collaborate with buyers – by educating with new ideas and perspectives, and bringing value to the table themselves. By being proactive and responsive, as the situation demands.
Great sellers are not born, they’re made. And sales success secrets are not really secrets – if you know how to capture the learning and put them into practice.
Great sellers connect. Convince. And collaborate.
Now what about you ?