Every person has an IQ, your intelligence quotient, which is misunderstood by many. We also all have an emotional intelligence (EQ), which is how aware we are of our emotional states and those of others. People interested in integral theory might measure their moral intelligence (MQ), providing an idea that would say a lot about what it might be like to work with someone, including whether they can be trusted.
Aside from those measurements, I think there is a reason to look at your HQ, your helpfulness quotient. As a salesperson, your clients are measuring you, determining whether to buy from you or from another salesperson. The more helpful you are, the greater your chances of winning a client’s business. The inverse is also true; salespeople with a low HQ have a reduced chance of winning.
Your competitors are also playing this game, trying to establish themselves as the right choice for the client. For our purposes here, being helpful is one strategy for creating value in the sales conversation, one that is worth exploring here.
Why Your Buyer Needs Help
In the past, you might have been trained on a linear sales process that was designed to ensure the salesperson would proceed through several outcomes, all for the salesperson to succeed. Those who used this sales process would tell you its ultimate goal was keeping the salesperson on track.
What the linear sales process didn’t do so well was help the client with their goals. Recent HubSpot surveys suggest that 59 percent of buyers don’t want to work with salespeople because the salesperson is focused on pursuing their own goals instead of the prospective clients’. Gartner’s research doesn’t speak to the reason so many buyers want a “salesperson-free buying experience,” but the numbers are concerning.
Why would a buyer believe they are better off without a salesperson helping them make the best decision for their future results? What most haven’t yet realized about this phenomena is that buyers and decision makers believe the salesperson is an impediment to their decisions.
A Short Interlude
There are some who believe that B2B selling has not changed in the last 50 years. They argue that strategies from the era of Nixon’s presidency are still effective today. But when B2B buying behaviors change, you would do well to evolve your sales strategies. When buyers complain about salespeople in surveys, they have in mind the very same ones that haven’t changed their sales approach in decades.
The modern sales approaches do a much better job of helping buyers decide on their future. While you may still find a poor salesperson who uses a modern approach, they are likely to be more helpful than salespeople using legacy approaches, so they aren’t as responsible for the negative survey results.
Why Your Client Must Change
As you know, I worry about salespeople who ask what kind of problem a client is facing. This question suggests that the salesperson asked for a meeting without having some theory as to why the client needs their help.
Almost anything would create greater value than asking a question you should already know the answer to. Should you decide to be more helpful than your rivals, you would explain to the client why they are experiencing the poor results that caused them to agree to a first meeting with you.
Whether you explain the impact of external forces or internal factors, your goal must be to help your client understand their challenges and the reasons for undesirable outcomes. I recommend doing this with an executive briefing, but there are other ways to provide this understanding.
Treating Discovery as a Collaboration
Another way you create value for your client is to treat the sales conversation as a collaboration with your contacts and their stakeholders. If you find yourself repeating the same conversation without any variation, it suggests you are not client-centric enough, lessening your chances of winning their business.
If you remember that buyers believe you are pursuing your goals instead of theirs, you can understand the importance of a collaborative approach that accounts for what the buyer needs. When you see data around the awful data around the sales experience, being more helpful will improve the client’s experience.
For more on collaboration see The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales.
Filling in the Client’s Gaps
One of the most important strategies in B2B sales is information disparity. This means you know things your client doesn’t know because they lack your knowledge and experience. We call this approach being One-Up. It is a powerful strategy for helping the client decide and improve their results.
It is difficult for clients to make decisions when the rate of change is so fast that it creates greater uncertainty. The last time our environment might have been stable was the 1950s. You are helpful when you can make sense of the uncertainty that prevents buyers from making a decision.
Without filling in the gaps, you may not be found to be helpful enough to choose you over your many competitors. When we talk about reading and researching, we are preparing to be helpful and create value for our clients. Too few do the work to be value creators, and the alternative is being a commodity.
The Helpfulness Quotient and B2B Sales
Your effectiveness in B2B sales is largely based on how helpful you are when it comes to a decision. This consultative approach would have you educate your client well enough they will make the decision you would have made, had they asked you.
The greater your helpfulness quotient, the easier it is to buy from you. By proving you are an asset, you make it easier to engage with you, prefer you over other sales reps, and eventually win their business.
If you haven’t looked at the sales conversation through this lens, this might be the first time you have considered how much help your clients need and how best to help them. Much of what you find on this platform is focused on increasing win rates by being a better salesperson.