And what’s your sales approach?
For sales reps and principals, there is a big battle in terms of sales approach. Let me set this one up for you.
Some salespeople are commission-only (not all, but some). In those situations, they need to be proactive at getting leads, nurturing leads, and closing deals — because it’s tied to how much they can make in a given month, quarter, or year. But even if you have a base salary and are not commission-only, you have targets and goals. You need to produce.
It’s all about how the rep makes quota, how the rep can be promoted, and how the rep can get people to buy.
This is a sales approach where sales is about you — the seller. That’s wrong, though.
Sales Approach: Sales is about the buyer
This has changed drastically in the last 10 years. Sales used to be more about the company and what the product could do, what experience they had, if they could xyz well, etc. Now much of the attention has shifted to the buyer side. We are living in an era of “customer-first,” and that’s being backed up by research. Some are even showing that customer experience is more valuable than brand:
In this environment, your sales approach must be about the buyer. But what does that mean?
Sales approach: You’re solving problems
If someone comes to you as a lead, chances are they interacted with your product or service because they were interested in some aspect of it. And chances are they were interested in that aspect because they have a problem they need to solve. The problem can vary, but usually they need to hit a target of their own. They have goals and something internally is standing in their way.
When you get connected with this person — this lead — that is where the conversation needs to begin and drive from. Namely:
- What is their problem?
- How do they know it’s a problem?
- Is their boss on them about it?
- Are they committed to change?
It’s about the buyer. It’s about customer journey. That’s the sales approach we need in modern B2B sales, or even B2C.
Sales approach: Why this makes sense for the seller
Too often, sales principals spend too much time on the wrong accounts (leads, prospects, nurturing, etc.) They see a company with a lot of money and they want that account, so they go hard after it. The problem is: the sales solution they have doesn’t work for that company. So they spend months and run in circles chasing a big number, but … it doesn’t work out in the end.
When you think about sales approach in terms of “What value can I bring the buyer?” or “What problem of the buyer will I solve?”, here’s the big thing that happens. You understand product/market fit better — so you know how to qualify leads better, and you spend more time on the right accounts and prospects. And finally, you waste less time on leads that can never become prospects or customers because your product doesn’t solve their problems.
Forgive the curse word in here, but look at things this way:
You’re selling the end outcome. “Hey, your problem is now solved!” That’s the goal.
Basecamp is a collaboration tool for teams. Their valuation isn’t specifically known per se, but most guesses would be in the billions of dollars. Their founder and CEO, Jason Fried, once sent this tweet.
“Here’s what our product can do” and “Here’s what you can do with our product” sound similar, but they are completely different approaches.
Your sales approach can’t be about you. It’s about the buyer and his journey. You help the buyer to solve problems. That’s what the best sellers of the modern age do.
Any other thoughts on how the sales approach has shifted as customers have more options?