Selling is making things unequal: five attributes to shift the equation

As a salesperson, you would like to have the best product, the best-fit solution, the biggest market share, working for the more experienced company with the highest rated after-sales support and the best price. If that would be 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 most cases the price. Hence we need salespeople
  2. It’s the individuals that define the results that they get, not the situation they find themselves in.

Top salespeople have the same access to resources as the average performers but producing 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.

Although these personal trademarks are not easily measured, customers do add these to the equation when it comes to making a decision. The better you become in the following attributes, the more you are creating a preference.

In his book “The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need” renowned sales blogger Anthony Iannarino describes nine qualities that, if done well, help you making things unequal. For simplicity, I summarize these into five.

  1. Self-discipline: This is about the way you work, 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 visits targets. You do follow up, you do what you promise, you show accountability and you come prepared to meetings without fail.
  2. Positive Attitude: 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. Caring: The desire to help other people. 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 often interrupt your potential customer with your personal opinion or an “I or WE” statement? Or do you let others finish their sentences and listen really 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 initiatives: If something would be easy to solve, then someone would have solved it already, including your competitor 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 also about making a difference at 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 pro-active.
  5. Persistence: 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, there is no need to meet with you”, what do you say? Are you accepting that statement and ask if you can call back in 6 months? That is not pursuing a goal. Once you set your objective to get at 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.

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 on 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?

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