From the Sales Side: What makes a successful Sales Pro

From the Sales Side: What makes a successful Sales Pro

"The challenge that sales folks face in the email space is differentiating between competitive vendors. It’s hard to do. It’s made more complex by the fact that many times the buyers don’t do a good enough job of identifying their needs and truly understanding the core variables that each vendor brings to the table. The reality is that all of the ESP’s can handle sending email and sending it well. Trying to differentiate between basic features that accomplish this table stakes task isn’t going to yield insight for the buyer. Understanding which sales team is bringing you value, versus the one who is interested in winning the commodity race, can have a huge impact on your decision making."

The give and take between buyer and seller has always fascinated me.  For example, those who sell spend a great deal of time trying to navigate the organizations that they are targeting.  Who’s in charge?  What drives them to be interested enough to talk with us?  Who are the key influencers in the deal?  What is the desired outcome for the prospect? 

In the last several years the Corporate Executive Board has conducted extensive research indentifying which sales people were most successful.  They determined the following five sales types that interact with customers:

  • The Relationship Builder
  • The Problem Solver
  •  The Hard Worker
  •  The Lone Wolf
  • The Challenger

Reading through this list, I’m sure you can think of a few people you’ve worked with that fit into these sales types.  It may shock you to learn that one of these sales types significantly outperforms the others in complex sales, which is exactly what buying email marketing technology is.  In fact, much of the way that you perceive a vendor is generated during the sales process.  Did you realize that?  The sales type that drives highest value in the selling cycle is also the type you may struggle with the most as a buyer.  Let’s see if you agree with the description of the most successful sales type:

  • The representative offers unique and valuable perspectives on the marketplace
  • The representative helps me navigate alternatives to solving my problem
  • The representative helps “me” avoid land mines
  • The representative educates me on new issues and new outcomes
  • The company they work from is easy to buy from
  • The vendor has widespread support from within my organization

The challenge that sales folks face in the email space is differentiating between competitive vendors. It’s hard to do.  It’s made more complex by the fact that many times the buyers don’t do a good enough job of identifying their needs and truly understanding the core variables that each vendor brings to the table.  The reality is that all of the ESP’s can handle sending email and sending it well.  Trying to differentiate between basic features that accomplish this table stakes task isn’t going to yield insight for the buyer. Understanding which sales team is bringing you value, versus the one who is interested in winning the commodity race, can have a huge impact on your decision making.

The descriptions of sales type characteristics that appeared above in this post of are the primary elements of the strongest sales type: the Challenger.  While the Challenger will build a relationship with you while working hard to solve problems, they will sometimes act as a lone wolf, solving problems that are often ones you didn’t know existed.  How do they do this?  They teach you something you didn’t know and help you uncover a previously unforeseen issue.  Think about this last statement. 

Many times when a RFP is issued in this space or a vendor review is happening, the problems that are presented during the sales cycle are top line issues.  Very rarely are companies truly putting themselves in the position to learn.  Challengers take conventional wisdom and infuse the sales cycle with insight that demonstrates new way of doing business and a solution that may very well have a wider impact beyond a simple change of platforms or services.

Often the problems you can’t see are the ones that impact your ability to leap forward.  Good sales people are focused on helping you and your organization identify these issues and provide solutions to generate a positive outcome.  As the sales type says, “Challengers” will ask probing questions and not simply accept your answers on face value. They will engage you directly and ask you to think deeply about the impact your decisions will have on you and your company.

If you find yourself being presented to and given a feature focused demonstration, then you are not engaged with a company that is interested in helping you realize long term success and solving bigger issues.  Think of your experiences when this has occurred–when the company left the room did you see them as differentiated or as just another one of the many companies looking to make money off of you?

By paying attention to the sales types that are selling you their products, you can turn the mundane buying process into a valuable experience that should generate insight helping you think outside of the confines of the technology and your short term needs.  I challenge you to take advantage of the professionals that you work with and find those differentiators.

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