What if you could walk into every sales meeting armed with a mental database of insights into why clients succeed, why they fail, and how you've helped other similar clients achieve success? Building and organizing such a library gives you a major competitive advantage.
One reason salespeople struggle to sell better is that they don't organize their experience and the lessons that provide insights. By spending time mining your clients' and your own stories, you can build a perspective that will help you win deals by being able to share your experience and the insights that can ensure your client succeeds through your sales conversation.
Why Your Clients Make Changes to Service Providers
No contact or company is going to make a change unless or until they absolutely must. When you take a client away from your competitor, it is because the client realized their provider could no longer help them generate the results they need. If you want to improve how you sell, review the clients you have won over the last year and document why you were able to beat your competitor. This includes recording what your competitor did to lose the client, and how you were able to provide what the client needed to achieve their desired outcome.
Understanding the Common Reasons Clients Fail to Get Results
You are likely to see a pattern of problems that cause your competitors to fail their clients. These patterns can inform your ability to address the different problems, allowing you to explain why your prospective client is challenged to produce the results they are seeking. Doing this work can give you a better understanding of critical problems and their implications and root causes, knowledge that prevents you from having to ask the client about their pain points.
Examining How Poor Client Decisions Lead to Failure
At the top of this post, we looked at how your competitors fail their clients. But sometimes, a client fails due to their decisions, or in some cases, their indecision. Think back on the times your clients or prospective clients failed through their own actions and write down the decision they took or the action they avoided, only to have them fail. This is a rich area to explore.
Providing Examples of Poor Client Decisions that Impact Results
Here are a few simple examples of how and why your clients’ decisions could lead them to fail. Imagine a prospect chooses your lower-priced competitor, only to discover that the smaller investment comes with many concessions that, naturally, were not disclosed. Perhaps you’ve had experiences with a client refusing to change vendors or processes, even though you have explained they will be harmed by inaction. By sharing details of what happened to others who didn't act in time, you can better educate your client on how to avoid similar serious and expensive problems.
Identifying What Successful Clients Do Differently
Some, hopefully many, of your experiences have you watching your clients succeed. For the time being, let's leave your solution out of this conversation. What you are looking for is what your successful clients do, so you can share their stories and insights about how to improve business.
Listing Examples of Decisions that Led Clients to Success
There are dozens of things that contacts and their teams do to figure out how to achieve their desired outcomes. You can help by guiding the sales conversation. By spending more time with the salesperson they are considering, a prospective client can determine if the rep and their company are a good fit. Another reason some clients succeed is by bringing their team together, including them in the sales conversation and the decision process. Ultimately, success comes to clients who do the work to understand the changes they might need to make in the future. A knowledgeable salesperson can help clients with all of this.
Building a Database of Client Success Stories
You have stories of your experiences and what you learned from them. Depending on how long you have been selling, you may have many stories. Each comes with a lesson or an insight that can help you show your client something that they can't yet see for themselves.
Leveraging Client Success Stories in Sales Conversations
Writing down the story of the client who was failing along with why they had to change can help your prospective client see themselves in the same position. You can then share how you and your past client turned things around. The more of these insightful stories you have documented, the easier it is to match the right sales scenario story during your conversations.
Organizing Key Insights from Past Experiences
By organizing your insights and matching them to your stories, the preparation you do will give you an advantage over your competitors. Documenting your insights will make it easier to leverage your experience in sales conversations, effectively transferring your knowledge to your contacts. The more you can help them understand the decision they are trying to get right on the first try, the better.
An Example Insight for Sales Leaders Supporting Teams
Here is one example from my experience as a keynote speaker and sales strategist and trainer. I spoke to 700 salespeople once. The senior sales leaders occupied the first table, which I was thrilled about since it showed their support. But when the keynote ended, all the leaders left the room, meaning the sales managers would have no way to properly support their team in making a major behavioral change that I had proposed during the talk. It was disappointing. Now I advise that sales managers need to lead the training of their teams, knowing what they need to do to enact real change.
Gaining a Competitive Edge with Documented Insights
Few salespeople will do the work of documenting insights from past experiences, even though it would make them a better, different, and more insightful –salespeople, positioning them as someone who knows something that benefits their clients. If you want an advantage in a contest, doing the work others avoid will give you that competitive advantage. When you have deep insight and your competitor is merely in love with their solution, you make certain you have the pole position with a huge head start in sales conversations.
Becoming a Consultative Salesperson
When we say someone is a consultative salesperson, we recognize they counsel their clients, giving them the advice and recommendations to ensure the client's desired results. Consultative salespeople ultimately win deals because they demonstrate greater knowledge and how best to apply it in the sales process.