Written by: Mike Schultz and Gord Smith
When it comes to selling financial services, professionals are usually faced with three common challenges:
The good news is that you can overcome these hurdles. There are specific things you can do in each of these areas to be more successful.
Sell the product benefits. Book the demo. Get them a free trial. Present the pitch deck.
We hear these ideas from sales pundits all the time. We want buyers to experience our product or service and see everything it has to offer. We develop long presentations and demos showing them the ins and outs and the numerous fancy, flashy things our offering can do for them.
But does it matter?
Or, at least not as much as most people think.
To succeed in sales, you need to have the right skills. You must be able to lead masterful sales conversations, manage opportunities, uncover needs, negotiate the best deals, fill the pipeline, develop relationships, manage sellers, and the list goes on.
With the laundry list of skills needed, what skills are sellers most likely to have?
In our The Top-Performing Sales Organization study, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research asked, across a number of areas, if sellers have the skills they need to find and win business consistently and at a high level. Below are the skills that rose to the top and fell to the bottom of the list:
There are a lot of opinions on what to do to drive sales success. I Googled the topic and found over 60 distinct pieces of advice for what to do and not to do, but most of the advice was, indeed, just opinions. Any references to research or proven success was tangential at best.
You deserve better!
Based on our work with B2B sales teams around the globe, as well as data from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, where we relentlessly study what the top sellers do and what buyers are looking for, we have gleaned 9 keys to achieving success in today's B2B sales environment:
According to Forrester Research, 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs by 2020. This represents a 20% reduction of the B2B sales force.
They go on to categorize sales positions into 4 groups, indicating where the greatest sales job losses will occur:
Since Mack Hanan coined the term in 1970, consultative selling has been the most widely accepted—and most pursued—sales approach. The approach is characterized as understanding buyer needs and positioning offerings as solutions to problems.
While this has been the go-to approach for many sellers, massive changes in buying technology and the vast amount of information on the internet is significantly changing how buyers buy at an unprecedented pace.
For the last 50 or so years, consultative selling has been the go-to approach for most sellers.
In traditional consultative selling, the buyer states a need and the seller positions their offerings as solutions to problems. This used to be enough to win the sale. But today’s buyers often perceive sellers and their capabilities to be somewhat interchangeable.1 This leaves sellers stuck in a capabilities battle, fighting price pressure.
Since the term was coined in 1970, consultative selling has been the most widely accepted—and pursued—sales approach. For the following forty years, advice for how to sell had mostly been a variation on the consultative selling theme.
When it comes to business development for professional services, one of the biggest challenges professionals face is finding time to do it all. After all, you don't sell full-time. Your work, whether it's consulting, accounting, IT, financial services, or engineering, is what you do full-time. And that makes it very difficult to find time to create and develop the relationships necessary to bring in new business.
Call it what you like: solution sales, consultative sales, consultative selling—at the core of each of these concepts is diagnosing and connecting the "pain" of the buyer with the products, services, and overall capabilities of the seller as "solutions."
Pain + Diagnosis + Offerings as "Solution" = WIN!
Having spent two decades in the sales training and consulting world, I get asked all the time what I think about this or that sales approach or book. When I do, it tends to make for productive discussion and learning. Importantly, it helps people decide what’s right for them when it comes to selling.
One of the greatest difficulties in sales is helping buyers understand what outcomes they will achieve when they work with you. Creating a picture of what outcomes are possible with the solution you present is imperative for two reasons. First, buyers need to be convinced of the outcome and that you can achieve it or they likely will not purchase.
John Jantsch over at Duct Tape Marketing asked me and several other sales industry veterans the following question:
"I hate selling, so now how do I convert leads?"
His readers could then guess which sales author answered the question which way. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I thought I’d share how I answered the question.