Brett Evans is a great local sales talent and advised me to read The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation in one of our many discussions of the overlap of sales and marketing.
Based on an exhaustive study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies,The Challenger Sale argues that classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions. The authors’ study found that every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and while all of these types of reps can deliver average sales performance, only one-the Challenger- delivers consistently high performance.
I’m not a big fan of sales books. I often find them overhyped and pushing processes that might motivate some sales people, but not all. I know amazing sales people that nurture relationships over years and close enormous contracts, I know sales people that are trusted regardless of the company they work at – bringing clients with them from country to country, and I even know amazing outbound sales people that relish pounding the phone all day and somehow engaging the prospect within a few minutes to drive them to the next step.
This book is quite different – breaking down different sales personalities and providing some groundbreaking research. It not only discusses the motivation and tactics of salespeople, it provides comprehensive insight into what customers are looking for in the sales process. Following are the top 5 attributes, in order of importance, that clients are seeking in their relationship with a sales representative:
- Rep offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market
- Rep helps me navigate alternatives
- Rep provides ongoing advice or consultation
- Rep helps me avoid potential land mines
- Rep educates me on new issues and outcomes
Did you notice tenacity, negotiation skills, upselling, speed to close, or any other attribute in those top 5? Nope. In fact, the next two attributes were being easy to buy from and having widespread support across the organization.
See any similarity between what kind of sales experience your prospects are seeking and what kind of content marketing strategy you’re executing for your prospects and customers? Hopefully, you see what I see! Let’s replace the terms:
- Your content offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market
- Your content helps me navigate alternatives
- Your content provides ongoing advice or consultation
- Your content helps me avoid potential land mines
- Your content educates me on new issues and outcomes
Mic drop! All of these attributes point to one thing – building both trust, authority, and value over time with prospects and customers. The best salespeople know this is how they close deals… and the best content and social marketing teams know it’s how they can close deals, or drive prospects through the conversion funnel, or help their sales teams get an advantage over the competition.