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How to Develop Expertise and Authority in B2B Sales, and Stay ahead of the Competition

Elevate your B2B sales game by harnessing expertise and authority to consistently win more deals.

We are pro-salesperson. We want every salesperson to succeed in sales. Unfortunately, more salespeople struggle to hit their targets and maximize their commission plans. Most sales organizations practice a version of solution selling. Despite having given it a new name and a new paint job, the vehicle is a clunker.

The gaslighting of salespeople begins during their onboarding, where they are taught and trained to believe that their company is the best in the industry. Once convinced this is true, they are taught that their solution is the best in class, one that no competitor can match. Decision-makers and buyers don’t believe either of these two things are true. They believe that there are plenty of good companies with solutions that would solve their problem and improve their results.

The Critical Missing Factor behind Lost B2B Deals

Let us agree that your company is a good company with good people doing good work. Let us also agree your solution is capable of helping your clients. Let us agree that you or your team are good people, the kind of people you would want to do business with. We agree you are not missing any of these factors, but yet you lose deals you believe you should have won.

The reason you can have all the nice things and still lose deals is because you project that you are a salesperson who needs something from your client. This approach is a push strategy, positioning you as a low-status salesperson instead of a high-status one. The high-status salesperson executes a pull strategy by not needing something. Instead of needing something, their game is knowing things their clients don’t or can’t know.

The single missing factor that causes lost deals is not being trained and taught to be an expert and authority in your industry. We describe this approach as being One-Up, as you have knowledge and experience your contacts are missing.

If you want to execute this most important B2B sales strategy, look at our video course “Information Disparity & Value Creation.”

Understanding the Transactional versus Consultative Approach in Sales

If you sell something that requires you to transact, your client knows enough to buy it without needing anything more than an offer and pricing sheet. If you sell in this world, you will always be treated like a commodity, unless you know something your contacts don’t know. If you have knowledge your contacts don’t have, you can turn a transactional approach into a consultative one and improve your win rates.

But because you have not been prepared to be an expert and an authority in your industry, it is more difficult to win deals when you are unable to prove you know things your contacts don’t or can’t know. This new Era of Decision Making is replacing the Era of the Solution, even though most sales leaders and sales managers are not paying attention to the changes in the ever-evolving B2B sales landscape.

Traits of the Top 20 Percent of B2B Sales Professionals

If you were to observe the top 20 percent of any sales force, you will notice a number of factors that you won't find further down the leaderboard.

  1. Experience: You will notice One-Up salespeople have spent more time in the industry, allowing them to have many more experiences than someone who hasn’t had enough experiences to match the top reps.
  2. Sharing Insights: Should you watch the top sales professionals sell, you would notice they share things they believe their contacts need to know to be able to make a significant change in their business. These sales reps spend time updating their clients with information and insights that buyers need to find the confidence they need to change.
  3. Consultative Approach: Watching a salesperson who happens to be One-Up, you will notice that their contacts are listening to the salesperson and taking their advice and their recommendations. This is what makes them consultative.
  4. Authority: If you watch a contact who is engaged with a One-Up salesperson, you will notice that they treat the salesperson as an expert and authority.

How to Develop Your B2B Sales Expertise and Authority

You can enable this approach through B2B sales training and coaching. Even those who lack the experience to be One-Up can borrow a little from the sales reps who are already experts and authorities. You can also do the work to enable a first conversation that will allow the salesperson to provide new information and insights.

If you are a salesperson who wants to show up as an expert and authority, you can adopt an approach that will position you as someone who can guide the client to the better results they need. To be able to do this, you need to process your experiences, noticing what your contacts need to know to move forward.

Recently, a salesperson told me he has 20 meetings in a week. Over the course of a year, he has close to 1,000 experiences. There is no chance that his clients know more than he knows. His clients rarely make the decision he helps them with, providing evidence that they will need to learn what has changed since the last time they bought what he sells.

Before leaving this article, reflect on your sales approach and what you will need to do to be an expert and authority in your industry. You can start today by starting to process your experiences and capturing what you learn from them and your clients. Document the trends you see, the recurring challenges your contacts face, and the implications and root causes of client problems. The more you do this in a conscious way, the more you will recognize patterns and trends, and the better advice you’ll be able to provide.

If you have a sales team, you can enable them to have a One-Up approach. If you are a sales leader or sales manager, ask yourself if you would buy from a person who knows less than you about the decision you need to make. Do good work and develop the ability to be consultative and win more deals.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 7, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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