The Gist:

  • The largest part of the decision to buy from you comes from your client’s experience during your conversation.
  • Your best chance to differentiate yourself is found inside the sales conversation.
  • Winning deals is the result of creating more value than your competition, not of having the best company or solution.

In 1992, I was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a group of arteries and veins that grows into a knot. Mine was located at the back of my right temporal lobe, and based on the giant scar on my head, somewhere above my right ear.

At the time, I lived in Los Angeles, and the doctors at UCLA wanted to schedule surgery to remove the AVM. When I called my parents to tell them, I learned that my aunt worked for a neurologist, so I decided to get a second opinion. My aunt’s employer referred me to Dr. John Tew at the University of Cincinnati, who he insisted was the very best neurosurgeon on Earth to conduct the surgery I needed. Every doctor I talked to seemed to share that opinion: as soon as I mentioned Dr. Tew’s name, they would tell me how he’s known worldwide as an AVM expert and that he’d conducted dozens of seminars to teach other surgeons his method.

By the time I met Dr. Tew, he had conducted countless surgeries for my exact malady—he was basically a rock star of AVM surgery. It didn’t much matter to me where he practiced or who signed his paycheck. I just knew I wanted to work with him. All went well: after my surgery, he told me that once he cut two arteries and one vein, the AVM popped right out. He also told me that it had been swelling because there was too much blood coming in with too little room to find its way back to my heart. The swelling damaged my brain, which required that the damaged part of my brain be removed during the surgery. I’m glad I went with the rock star!

A salesperson rock star

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Are You a Rock Star?

The person sitting across from you on a sales call is likewise hoping that you are a rock star. They hope you know more than they know about how best to solve their problem and produce the better results they need. They hope you have the business acumen and the experience necessary to help guide them as they decide how to move their business forward. A large part of their decision-making is going to come from the experience and expertise you provide: no matter where you work or what you sell, you are the value proposition.

Before your prospective client can benefit from buying from your company, and before they can recognize the improvement your solutions offer them, they first have to experience the value you create within the confines of the sales conversation, the conversations you have with your prospects about how and why they need to change. If you don’t create value for your client throughout that conversation, you are unlikely to create or win their business.

A knowledgeable and helpful consultative salesperson will provide their client with the advice throughout conversations around why the client needs to change, what they need to consider, and why they might pursue one approach over another approach. This emphasis on value creation positions the salesperson to win the client’s business, as they focus on helping the client with the change they need to make to improve their results.

By contrast, a salesperson who is less knowledgeable and less helpful focuses on helping the client change their solution and the company that provides it. There may be a case to be made for those tasks, but that path rarely gives the client strategic benefits when it comes to understanding and making critical decisions.

A prospective client looking at the value map provided to them

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The Only Thing Your Client Has to Go On

The only reliable guide the client has when determining who to choose as their partner is the value each salesperson creates inside the sales conversation. This is true whether you like it or not, even if it’s not a particularly convenient truth. It’s also true even when you have nothing to do with delivering the actual results, other than being accountable for the better outcomes your client needs—the ones you promised them.

It’s likely that your client’s main experience with your company comes through working on their problem with you. That makes you the primary person responsible for delivering an experience that creates a preference to buy from you, to buy from your company, to buy your solution, and to take your advice. It also means that you’re competing directly with your competitors’ salespeople, even the rock stars who are much better than you at creating value in the sales conversation. That advantage will often position them to win a deal, even when their company or solution isn’t as good as yours.

A salesperson improves at getting better

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Get Better at Getting Better

Winning means creating more value in the sales conversation than your competition. It requires that you increase your effectiveness when it comes to being truly consultative, helping your client understand the decision they are making and helping guide them to better results.

Improving your results requires that you get better at getting better, improving the value you create for the contacts whose business and partnership you are seeking. Your clients may never ask you to cut open their skull and remove part of their brain, but if you want to be a rock star, you’ve got to put in the work.

Do Good Work:

  • What decision-relevant insight can you provide your client that they may not yet know or have considered?
  • How do you help enable your clients to make the best decision for their business and their future results?
  • What are you doing to get better at getting better, so you can be a superior value proposition for your clients and prospects?
Tags:
Sales, 2021
Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
March 26, 2021
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