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One definition of selling is “the ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have “(Dan Pink, To Sell is Human).  A seller can help to facilitate that exchange in ways that are based on value and not just around the product he sells.  When a client engages me to help their sales staff, I ask to interview their top performers.    My purpose is to decode their selling DNA and identify the markers that make them so successful.    These people help others to meet their objectives by selling business value.  There are 3 tactics these top sellers employ:

  1. Get to the cost of the problem today.  Buyers will face any number of problems.  Great sales people help buyers define in totality all the costs those problems bring.  The cost may be non-monetary like low morale or frustration, but costs that strike the bottom line are numbers that are heard by every person involved in making the buying decision.   We worked with a company whose industry is becoming saturated with competitive products, driving down the prices.  When you are the high priced product in the market place it seems every buyer asks about prices first.   Great sellers can shape and frame conversations around the costs of buyer’s problems, not on the price of their solution.   These early conversations around costs helped them sell more and maintain margins in the end.
  2. Tell stories. Stories help the buyers discover for themselves the problems they are facing or the solutions that are needed.  Great sales people have several stories, personal experiences that they share depending on the situation or desired outcome.  They share stories when the conversation lulls and the buyer is unable to articulate problems.  Stories have purpose and you begin them by framing who they are about, their problem, a turning point and a resolution.  We worked with sales people from an internet company who were experiencing problems with buyers who were unable to articulate clearly the problems they were facing.  Sales people began sharing what other buyers in their industry have problems with.   They found that by opening up and sharing some successes and failures of peers that it gave voice to the buyers and they were able to begin sharing.  Stories not only get to problems, they can be used to describe how others use and derive business value from your products.  Stories help people understand.  Great sales people use them and use them in many ways.
  3.  Summarize the conversation in writing. This is a point that all sellers will tell me that they do, but few do it well.  I sell my services to many companies in different industries.  I am constantly referring to the emails I’ve written as follow up after our conversations.  These emails summarize the problems they are facing the costs these problems are causing, the solutions we discussed and value of those solutions, and, of course, the next steps as discussed.  This helps the customer and me keep the focus on the problems we are trying to solve.  Great sales people don’t rely on memory they simplify, write it down, share it with the customer, and allow the customer to give feedback.

These are three techniques that great sales people practice that help them sell on the business value their products will bring.