We tend to think of selling as something one does, as a profession, a set of actions. We believe that anyone motivated to learn to sell can do so, and put our faith in sales processes and methodologies to produce a repeatable result. Now, because selling has fully matured into being other-oriented, we believe the buyer’s process or journey is essential to serving the prospective client, should one hope to succeed. What we don’t spend enough time worrying about is whom we provide to the buyer to execute these processes, methodologies, and buyer’s journeys. If you want to make selling a lot easier, become someone people want to buy from.
My first book, The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, was a book about how to succeed in sales. It is every bit as much a success manual as it is a sales guide. The first half of the book is titled Mindset, and it includes nine chapters about how you develop the character traits necessary to become someone people want to buy from, with sales-related examples to bring the ideas to life. The character traits you need to develop include self-discipline, optimism, caring, competitiveness, resourcefulness, persistence, initiative, communication, and accountability.
Without self-discipline, your ability to keep the commitments you make to yourself, you aren’t going to keep the promises you make to others. Your prospective clients can sense whether or not you are buttoned-up. You also project your attitude, which is why optimism is critical. Perceptive people can intuit much about you in a single meeting, including your other-orientation and how much they believe you will be accountable for the outcomes you sell them.
Integrity means that you are honest and moral. It also suggests that you are whole and not divided, or something like incongruent. It very much matters who shows up to sit across from your dream client. If you want to make selling easier, develop the character traits that other people find attractive.
Value Creation in Process
In any human endeavor, the results one produces will be found somewhere along a continuum, something you will recognize as a bell curve. Poor performers, when measured on some outcome, are located at the left end of the curve, and the best performers are found on the extreme right, with most people somewhere in the middle sixty-percent. As it pertains to sales, one measurement worth considering is how valuable your prospective clients find you and their interactions with you.
When you think about selling as our job, it’s easy to forget that the whole endeavor is about creating a preference to buy from you and your company (video), a company that provided you to represent them. The experience you provide is what creates–or doesn’t create–that preference. There are countless ways to lessen the experience and subtract from value, including things like being self-oriented or showing up unprepared, things you might quickly remedy if one wanted to improve. But as necessary as it is to be other-oriented and prepared, there are more significant crimes of which one might be accused.
In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, you will find a nonlinear methodology for taking a consultative approach to selling. As crucial as this framework is, the heart of the idea is that you, the professional salesperson, should help your dream clients agree to the commitments and conversations necessary to making real change and the better results that can only follow the change.
Knowing what conversations are necessary and the commitments required to support them provide your contacts with greater certainty. You sell your solution every day, and your client infrequently changes partners. Your guidance creates a preference. Your knowledge of how to decide to change and produce better results makes you someone worth buying from.
Value Creation in Advice
You need only two things to be a trusted advisor, the first being trust, and the other being advice. If you cannot offer meaningful advice, then trust by itself isn’t going to be enough for you to be someone your contacts can select as a partner.
In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, you will find a simple framework for judging the value you create for your clients and prospects. The lowest level, Level 1, would mean that the extent of the value you create for your client is limited to your product or service. The highest level of value, Level 4, indicates that you provide strategic advice and the equally strategic outcomes your dream client needs.
An approach that starts by pitching your company and your product or solution, you are subtracting from value and eliminating a preference. A strategy that addresses the obstacles to better results by providing context, followed by advice on how to achieve strategic outcomes (the real motivation to change), makes you someone worth knowing and someone worth adding to their team.
The level of your advice is a variable to your being someone who attracts clients.
Subject Matter Expertise
Should you desire to attract your dream clients to working with you instead of a competitor, you will need to become a subject matter expert. Most of the people you compete against for a client’s business are not interested or willing to become an expert in the results and outcomes they produce. They aren’t going to read books or journals, and they’re not going to exert themselves in understanding their industry and the intersection of their business and their client’s business.
Your client isn’t an expert in your industry. There is no amount of internet research that can replace the knowledge one acquires from experience working in an industry, especially when their role requires them to help people produce better outcomes. You are either someone who has the knowledge and expertise to cover the gaps in their dream client’s knowledge, in which case, you can cover their gaps, or you know little more than they do.
Proving you can fill the gaps in your client’s knowledge and understanding makes you someone worth buying from.
If you want to become someone people want to buy from, recognize that success is individual and start by possessing the traits that your clients find attractive. Then learn how to be a consultative salesperson, and create more value than your competitors by becoming an expert in the outcomes you sell.
Becoming a person that people want to buy from is difficult, but once you have done so, selling is a lot easier.
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Filed under: Sales