Social Selling Tips of the Week: Sales by Analogy

Learn how surprising comparisons, metaphors, and analogies can help you get the most out of your sales team.

August 26, 2016

  • Sales-by-Analogy

Sometimes, as a frustrated sales leader looking to motivate your team, you need to tap a totally different part of your brain. Comparing sales to other parts of life by way of analogy isn’t just a great way to communicate insights to reps—it’s also fun.

Likening your sales team to spirit animals or toddlers might seem like a strange idea (in fact, it almost certainly does). But it’s also a clear (if quirky) way to convey useful lessons. Sales bloggers across the web embraced this kind of thinking over the past week.  

Whether you’re thinking about the unique personalities on your team, how to train your department, or how to approach customers, let’s see how analogies can help.

Treat Your Rep like a 5-Year-Old

Brian Fravel, blogging at Salesforce, realized that the best sales rep he knows acts like a complete 5-year-old. “He has a short attention span, likes to play, but doesn’t like too many rules…He is short on patience, is fairly unorganized, but really passionate if he can see the reward,” Fravel wrote.

Many of you probably have people on your team who behave like this, and you’ll want to get the best out of him or her. Fravel offers some great tips. Among them: Ditch the all-day-long training sessions that most of us will forget anyhow. Instead, coach one skill at a time—and at the right time. Fravel suggests “introducing smaller modules of information when they are the most useful for moving an opportunity forward.”

Sell Like a Brand

When managing your own sales and your team’s, brand expert Denise Yohn recommends thinking about selling your brand. In an environment where information ubiquity makes many prospects feel they don’t even need a salesperson, Yohn explains that “great salespeople succeed in this new business environment by doing what great brands do.”

Yohn presents seven principles about how to sell like a brand does. Similar to great brands, salespeople do not sell products—they sell experiences to “appeal to and connect with their clients through emotion, brand story-telling, and thought-leadership.”

Like brands, great salespeople “create extraordinary experiences that embody their brand.” That means salespeople should focus on making each step of the sales process memorable and “seek out opportunities to infuse the most influential [customers] with the brand’s key values and attributes.”

Fly Like a Bird

Part of the fun in the sales process is that each of your team members and customers are different. Over on Inc., Christina Desmarais, interviews author Merrick Rosenberg about applying the lessons of his book on personality types to sales. Human beings are either Eagles, Parrots, Doves, or Owls—and so are salespeople, it turns out.

Each personality/bird-type has certain strengths and weaknesses. While Eagles are assertive, they may not be great at establishing a rapport with a customer. Owls are great on details, but might flood a customer with too much information. Naturally, Doves avoid conflict. So, to be great at sales, Desmarais writes, you should know your style and adapt it your customers' personality to make him or her comfortable.

Act like a Grownup

Remember: despite all this talk of fun analogies, you still need to get down to the business of selling. When you’re ready to think about how to engage with senior decision-makers, check out LinkedIn’s data-fueled tipsheet to engage with those executives, whether they work in marketing, real estate or insurance. The tipsheet includes trending topics on LinkedIn, methods to impress decision-makers, and best practices for reaching out to them.

As you can see from this week’s tips, when you are frustrated, it’s best to have some fun and think outside the box—that may just be the trick to motivating you and your team.

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