10 Ways To Create A Preference – How Do You Stack Up?

As a salesperson, you would like to have the best product, the best-fit solution, and the biggest market share, working for the more experienced company with the highest-rated after-sales support and the best price. If that were true, you would win every opportunity from your competitors. Senior management would just add more salespeople to the salesforce because every customer contact turns into success.  So why doesn’t it work that way?

Well, because of two main principles:

  1. You cannot be the best and the cheapest; something has to give. In other words, if you offer better value, you should ask for a higher price. On the other hand, price can be the differentiator if your value is of a lesser value.
  2. It’s the buyer that decides what the best value is for their company and their preference of who delivers that value.

Top salespeople have the same access to resources as the average performers but produce consistently better results. What are the top 20% of every organization doing differently? They find ways to make things unequal because they are the differentiator. They are creating a preference for the potential customer as a person to work with.

In the new way of selling, that preference is created through a combination of fundamental sales trademarks and new attributes aligned with how buyers operate in this ever-changing world. The better you become in the following attributes, the more you create a preference.

Let’s see how you stack up. Give yourself an honest score between 1 to 5, where 5 indicates that you do not need more improvement. In other words, you got it, you are a star. 1 indicates where you need to improve the most.

Attributes [fundamental – new] MeaningScore 1 – 5
1. Self-Discipline [f]
This is about the way you work and the ability to manage yourself. Self-discipline makes it possible for you to focus your time and energy on what must be done now without postponing. This means you are achieving those call and visit targets. You do follow up, you do what you promise, you show accountability, and you come prepared to meetings without fail.
2. Positive Attitude [f]Who do you think potential customers would like to have on their team? The pessimistic, cynical, complaining and negative person or the one who is optimistic though realistic, positive, empowered, and a future-orientated person that gets things done? You may think this is stating the obvious, but your customers sense your attitude and having a positive attitude does make a massive difference in your results.
3. Others-Oriented and Caring [n]To be successful in sales, you cannot be self-orientated. You need to be interested in helping other people. You show this in the way you communicate. Are you a good listener? I mean, a really good listener? Do you have a fundamental desire to help your stakeholders to do better and achieve their objectives? How often do you interrupt your stakeholder and start selling your solution? Or do you let them finish their sentences and really listen to what they have to say? If you do the latter, you show that you care. Potential customers find those people interesting who are interested in them.
4. Resourcefulness, insightful and taking initiative [n]If something was easy to solve, then someone would have solved it already, including your competitor’s sales rep. So this is about the ability to find or make a way. Customers appreciate this ability in salespeople. And it is not always about solving things; it is also about making a difference in conversations you have with your potential customers. They are expecting you to bring something new to the table that is worthwhile knowing or can change the potential customer’s perspective on their situation. Waiting doesn’t help; you got to take initiative, be resourceful, be insightful and be proactive.
5. Persistence [f]The ability not to give up easily. It is the act of selecting the desired outcome and pursuing it until you achieve it. If your potential customer says: “we are actually quite happy with our current supplier, and there is no need to meet with you”, what do you say? Are you accepting that statement and asking if you can call back in 6 months? That is not pursuing a goal. Once you set your objective to get to a potential customer’s table, then have a strategy, stick to your strategy, and don’t give up. Be persistent, stay engaged, and wait patiently, ready to seize opportunities.
6. The ability to prepare with the Buyer’s perspective [n]Preparing your meetings with the seller’s perspective means you want to close deals regardless of what. You focus on your solution and wait for the right moment to explain the features, advantages and benefits of your solution. Preparing with the Buyer’s perspective, you spend time to understand the customer’s situation and have insightful information, ideas, experiences, and stories to share that may help your stakeholder to discover something about themselves, such as unforeseen risks and untapped opportunities – all helping to achieve their desired business outcomes.
7. The ability to read the buying room [n]Either before or during but also after meetings, do you understand where stakeholders are in the buying clock? They may be in different phases like Why Change?, Change to What?, Change to Who? and Commit to Change. Your preparation, the agenda and what you would like stakeholders to discover depends on this ability.
8. The ability to Drive consensus [n]Are you rushing to prepare a proposal after talking to one stakeholder who liked what you have to say? Or, are you more aware that decisions are seldom made by one person? How well are you driving consensus of the buying room to move forward in their buying process? Do you have the ability to bring them together and focus on common objectives and outcomes?
9. Enabling Stakeholders [n]An ability often overlooked. Buyers are hungry for insights. But after you have left the building (or hung up the phone), have you provided your stakeholder with insightful information so that they can influence other stakeholders? This is a crucial skill in influencing the buying room. How often are you doing this, or not?
10. Asking for commitment [n]This is not about “closing the deal” but rather a skill to ask for many smaller commitments that help your stakeholder move forward in their buying process. This is about the commitment of one stakeholder to move, for example, from Why Change? to Change to What? phase. But also the commitment to involve other stakeholders, the commitment to make a decision and the commitment to an implementation plan.

What is your score and what are the gaps you should work on?

These are differentiators that cannot be easily measured but, in the eyes of the customer, are making things unequal. They are mindset elements that build your influence and are in your control. You can work on these and become better. Well-rounded salespersons with these attributes are strong influencers. They persuade potential customers to believe something, change their perception, and take action to move forward together. Having the right product, solution and price help but if everything is equal, guess who the buyer decides to work together with? Those who can create a preference.

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One comment

  1. Another great article to make one reflect on how to truly help the customers and achieve the desired goal. Thanks Ton!

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