Because business environments are every day more complex and volatile, the differentiation between salespeople on a same market cannot rely only on functional parameters: mastery of the product/service, deep knowledge of the industry, client benefit or competitive intelligence.
Differentiation is the result of choices made by salespeople: i.e. wanting to share information, feeling accountable for the buyer’s investment, seriously trying to understand the client’s ecosystem. These choices are human, not technical.
In other words, mastering the parameters of his/her solution allows the salesperson only to join the game; not to win.
To compete and eventually to win require something else.
It requires the skill to identify and master what truly fosters deep relationship with clients.
It requires to also learn how to avoid single-mindedness, the strongest relationship killer.
A taste of behavioral sciences and a lot of practice are probably welcome here.
Connecting with the client at high level is not a guarantee for success but helps significantly the buying decision; loosing this connection naturally urges the client to move away from the salesperson recommendation.
Sales reps, account managers, sales engineers, key account managers are responsible for creating with their clients the conditions of a sustainable, positive, balanced and self-powered relationship.
Sustainable because the time of “one shot sale” is gone; clients want partners not racketeers.
Positive because clients want to feel supported not confronted nor pressured.
Balanced because clients usually do not partner with submissive nor overbearing salespeople.
Self-powered because partnering requires only reduced external energy inputs.
It is essential to understand that questioning the status quo or changing a well-established situation requires courage from clients; they most likely will find it when they know they are genuinely backed by the salesperson; not when they are pushed.
This is where salespeople can differentiate themselves.
Clients may have a preference for a brand or a specific company but they will always express their loyalty to a person or a group of persons.
Integrity is not only a virtue in sales, it is also a must.