The Versus Mentality Must Go

BY Jessica Helinski
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A versus mentality is common among salespeople due to the competitive nature of the sales industry. But, as the industry, and buyers, evolve, salespeople must evolve as well. “The new era of selling is one defined by partnerships and collaboration,” writes Amanda B. for LinkedIn. “While a little competition can be healthy, there are many instances where an adversarial mindset can hold sellers back.”

Reps may find it difficult to shift away from a versus mentality. Thankfully, Amanda has some advice to guide reps to a more collaborative state of mind. She presents five “adversarial” mindsets that reps may have, helping them identify traits of these mindsets and offering tips to shift those traits.

Versus Mentality: Do you have one?

In order to rid yourself of an adversarial mindset, you must first be able to identify the different types. 

Seller vs. Buyer. This mentality is fairly common because in the past, many considered sales to be a battle between the seller and the buyer. But, more reps are seeing that their relationship with prospects does not need to be combative. In fact, the opposite is true. Both “sides” should win in a sale; not just one or the other. Despite the shift away from this versus mindset, little bits of it can pop up. For example, a rep may be frustrated with a buyer who they believe is stringing them along instead of respecting how complex the decision-​making might be for the buyer. 

Reps can prevent themselves from succumbing to this versus mindset with these tips from Amanda: 

  • Make yourself focus on the collaboration between you and the buyer. Keep in mind that, as Amanda points out, “you are working with buyers to solve their problems as opposed to pitching your solution as the sole answer.” Think about this as a relationship rather than a transaction.
  • Find your empathy and hold on tight. If you see the seller as a fellow human, with their own challenges and needs, you’re less likely to view them in an adversarial light.

By seeing buyers as collaborators, reps value the relationship with the prospect, thus increasing their chances of both parties reaching an agreement. 

Don't go it alone

Salesperson vs. Salesperson. Another versus mentality involves salespeople viewing fellow reps as adversaries. Whether on the same team or competing for an account, this type of mindset is a tough one to overcome. A healthy dose of competition is good for sales, but it’s a different thing to let it be your guiding mindset. Amanda explains that the “lone wolf” sales profile is no longer ideal. She references a quote from sales professional Nádia Vieira who wrote, “Salespeople get better results when they work together. They share ideas, seek advice, learn the latest tips and techniques. They encourage each other, too, cheer each other on, celebrate others’ successes and enjoy having their own wins applauded.” It’s this way of thinking that should replace the old-​school versus mindset. 

Shift your mindset now for future success

These mindsets, along with the others Amanda highlights, are much more compatible with today’s world and today’s buyers. While it may take some effort to shift how you approach selling, doing so will only help you evolve from the versus mentality to one that is more suited for success in the modern sales industry.