The "why us" approach salespeople have used for more than 100 years was based on the idea that the salesperson lacked credibility and trust. To convince a prospect to buy from the salesperson, the salesperson would explain that their company was reputable and successful, making it safe for the prospective customer to buy from the company. They also explained that their product was also the best available, making it safe for the customer to buy the product.

This approach intended to remove the salesperson as a variable. The customer was buying the best product from a trustworthy company. Most sales organizations attempt to differentiate in the exact same way as their competitors, still fighting a battle over whose company and product is better. Salespeople who practice these approaches complain when they are treated like a commodity without recognizing they lack any meaningful differentiation. Your company has a unique way of helping your clients improve their results, as does your competitor.

Pivoting to "Why Me?"

It would be very easy to write about why the client should buy from the salesperson, and in some way, what follows will lead to that outcome. But the real "Why Me?" is the question the client is asking themselves. If one were to replace the "Why Us" approach, they would do well to answer the client's internal question.

Salespeople are uncomfortable with the idea that you should already know your client's problems, challenges, and the obstacles that prevent them from producing the results that you can help improve. Instead, they believe they need to ask the client to name their problem, speeding the salesperson to the opportunity to propose their solution. Unless you believe your prospect is somehow oblivious to their many problems, identifying a problem isn't all that helpful.

A List of "Why Me" Questions Clients Ask Themselves

 

Why Me 1 – Why do I have this problem?

It is more valuable to help the client understand why they have the problem than identifying the problem. The client who is aware of their problem may not recognize why they have the problem. Your discovery questions should help you illuminate the real reason the client is experiencing the problem or challenge. You might find that the client has made or avoided a decision that caused their problem and that they have to do something different with or without your solution.

Why Me 2 – What changes contribute to my poor results?

Your client may not recognize the assumptions they used to make a decision about how they should operate were correct at the time but are now outdated. Explaining what changed over time and how it impacts the client's results allows the salesperson to explain why the client is no longer able to succeed in the current environment by doing things the way they did them in the past.

Why Me 3 – Why do I have to change?

The idea that your client has a problem that provides them with enough pain to take action isn't a good assumption. Some of your prospective clients will be actively trying to resolve their issues, while others have lived with the problem long enough that they accept the problem. Some may believe their problem can't be resolved, which explains why you find clients who have lived with their problems for years.

The Certainty Sequence you will find in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative begins with the opposite of "why us," a question that most sales organizations use to prove they can help the client with the certainty of better results. The "why me" should start with the promise of negative consequences should the client refuse to change. The "why us" conversation should come later in the sales conversation, where it makes sense.

Why Me 4 – Why do I have to have these conversations?

Most of the advice and recommendations salespeople make can be summed up with "why us," and sounds like "buy my solution from my company," offering no guidance on how the clients should go about making change. Some decision-makers and contacts will want to try to avoid having to engage in what are often difficult conversations, causing them to have trouble improving their results. Instead of telling the client what to buy, you offer advice and recommendations on "how to buy" and "how to change," educating your client on how to produce the best possible results, including getting consensus from their team and their organization.

What Marketers Miss

The legacy approach to sales is in part the legacy approach to marketing. Instead of pitching the company and the product, modern marketers focus on helping the client to recognize the root cause of their problems, challenges, and opportunities. They help the client understand how the changes in the client's environment impact their business and the changes that the client must make to improve their results.

The most effective salespeople have always been consultative, providing a valuable perspective, based on their experience, and helping the client recognize the nature of their problems and how best to address them. Because the consultant sells their counsel and advice, they have no need to talk about their company—and lacking a product, they have nothing to point to as the solution outside of their advice. Most decision-makers prefer learning something that might help them over being asked to suffer through a "why us" presentation.

An other-oriented approach that helps the client answer their questions and provides them with the ability to change and improve their results is always going to score more points than a self-oriented approach. The consultative approach is going to make it easy for you to answer your client's "why me," allowing them to recognize why they should buy from you.

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Sales 2022
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 1, 2022
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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