How to Join the Ranks of Sales Winners this Year

BY Rachel Cagle
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Last year was probably one of the worst you’ve ever experienced in your entire career in sales. Many people believed in vain that we’d be able to breathe a sigh of relief with the coming of 2021. However, the coronavirus hasn’t been defeated just yet and probably won’t be until late this year. Making sales isn’t going to get any easier until after the vaccine is widely distributed. So, if you made it through 2020 by the skin of your teeth, it’s time you learned how to join the sales winners to make this year a bit easier on you.

According to a study conducted by Mike Schultz and John Doerr for The Rain Group, B‑to‑B sales winners have a significantly different sales process compared to salespeople who bring in less money. The two researchers found that there are three levels to successful sales.

How Sales Winners Sell

Level 1: Connect

Sellers who win connect,” say Schultz and Doerr. “They connect with people and connect the dots between needs and solutions.” The problem many sales reps have with connecting with prospective customers is that they focus on diagnosing their prospect’s problems. Schultz and Doerr point out that diagnosing a problem means to identify a problem for the first time. “The need for a diagnosis implies that the buyer doesn’t have a thorough understanding of why they find themselves in their current, undesirable situation or what to do differently.” As such, you appear to be questioning the prospect’s intelligence. Sales winners don’t do that.

Instead, sales winners show their prospect that they have a thorough understanding of the prospect’s needs. The reps discuss the situation with the prospect and actually help the prospect deepen their understanding of what their needs are, as well. When your prospect fully understands what is ailing their company, they’ll be more confident in formulating a plan of action.

The prospect has likely already thought of an initial plan of action to address the obvious, surface-​level need you just elaborated on. Now, it’s time to work together to make sure that the prospect is getting a solution that will meet as many of their needs as possible. By doing this, you’re not only connecting the dots of their needs, but also connecting with the prospect by including them in the solution. Way to go, sales winner!

Level 2: Convince

Prospects need to be convinced of three things before they agree to a sale:

  • Positive ROI: This extends beyond, “Well, what will happen if you do nothing?” That’s using scare tactics, which won’t always work. Sales winners positively promote the results you expect the prospect to achieve based on research and prior experience.
  • Minimal risk: Minimizing risk has a lot to do with you. They’re taking your advice for a solution. So, you have to be experienced, professional, trustworthy, confident (and inspire confidence), and helpful in navigating potential pitfalls.
  • Confidence that they’re buying from the right person: Sales winners combine the first two points to create this one. Have you provided value beyond what your competitors may give; both financial and knowledge-​based? Are you now seen as an industry authority in the eyes of the prospect? Have you highlighted how what you provide is different than your competitor’s solution (without insulting the competitor)? No one said establishing confidence would be quick and easy!

The third level is collaborate, but you’ll have to read the original study to learn about that one.