Do you struggle to pinpoint exactly what makes your top sales performers excel? While common, this challenge can make it impossible to consistently recruit high performers. It also makes it difficult to translate those qualities into training for other salespeople on your team that would allow your organization to more quickly scale. Often, even those sales managers who believe they have identified the common thread find, through third-party assessment, that what they believe their top reps do to succeed in the field and what they actually do are quite different.
A recent study conducted by Mike Schultz and John Doerr of the RAIN Group investigates this exact dilemma by studying the winners of more than 700 B2B (business to business) sales opportunities accounting for more than $3 billion in purchases to determine what they did differently than those sales reps coming in second. The findings may very well hold true in your organization.
The most fundamental skill set of sales winners is the ability to connect with prospects and help them connect the dots. Schultz and Doerr call that "level one sales." Connecting with prospects often boils down to strong listening skills. Helping prospects connect the dots means simply helping them realize how your company's products and services are solutions to their unique needs. Prospects say sales winners excel at demonstrating their understanding of those needs. However, sales professionals that stop at level one don't find themselves in the winner's circle nearly as often as their counterparts with level two and three skills.
Level two sales skills center around the ability to convince buyers they can achieve maximum returns with your product or service versus your competitors and that the risks are minimal. Mastering this skill helps ensure you don't lose as many sales to "no decision" which can be a more worthwhile opponent than your actual competitors. The importance of risk mitigation is becoming increasing vital given the fragile state of our economy, and you can do this by demonstrating your experience via proven performance with other clients; building trust and inspiring confidence.
Consistent sales winners also demonstrate level three skills -- the ability to collaborate with prospects. These salespeople are perceived as responsive, proactive and easy to buy from. Buyers believe these sales winners collaborated with them during the buying process in order to achieve a mutual goal. At the heart of collaboration is active listening, strong questioning skills, and the ability to bring new ideas and perspectives to the conversation.
When a buyer believes the seller is collaborating with them, ownership of the idea to buy the solution proposed shifts from the seller to the buyer and therefore becomes a higher priority. This shift creates momentum, advances sales and drives demand.
Lori Turner-Wilson can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.