This Week’s Big Deal: The Modern Seller’s Creed

November 9, 2018

One Man Helping Another on Hike

Oprah Winfrey once said, “Helping others is the way we help ourselves.”

Her assertion is backed by science and has become a guiding principle for modern selling. We touched on this trend in a post last week about navigating at-risk customer relationships:

Today’s buyers prefer interacting with salespeople who listen to their needs and provide them with relevant information. Fifty-seven percent say they prefer to purchase from a salesperson who “doesn’t try to apply pressure or hassle them when following up.” In other words, your customers want more than a sales rep who can create a proposal — they want an advocate who makes their lives easier.

In B2B sales, overt pitching and hard sells are quickly becoming things of the past. The most successful sales professionals are developing a more helpful and consultative approach. This is how we build trust, which is absolutely essential; LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales report found that trust — more than even  ROI and price — is the most important contributor to closing deals.

Helping is the new selling. Adoption of this mindset should be a top priority for sales managers and teams everywhere. In her latest post on The Selling Agency’s blog, chief revenue officer Shawn Karol Sandy proposes a four-pronged Modern Seller’s Creed.

Value First: Four Tenets of Modern Selling

Are you focused on your goal, or your customer’s goal? If it’s the former, you’re at risk of being passed up by sales pros who are embracing buyer-centricity with open arms.

Sandy offers these four directives to guide an effective modern selling style:

  • Selling is the first opportunity you have to offer value to a prospect.
  • Selling is articulating YOUR value in a way that is valuable to someone else.
  • Selling is helping people make decisions in their buying process.
  • Selling is persisting with integrity so buyers can make the best, most informed decision.

“The reality is that your customers or buyers shouldn’t feel like there is a difference between helping and selling,” Sandy explains.

Right now, reps are largely coming up short in fostering this perception. According to the 2018 Buyer Preferences Survey from CSO Insights, vendor salespeople rank ninth out of 10 resources buyers rely on to solve business problems.

How to Follow the Modern Seller’s Creed

“At the end of the day, sellers and buyers are human beings,” says SAP’s Eliana De Celis. “Relationships need to work first. The transactional stuff now takes second place to making an impact, being remembered and adding value to a relationship. You need to be the subject matter expert that your customer turns to. That go-to person with expertise.”

Remember the list of buyer preferences from a few paragraphs back? Subject matter experts are at the very top.  Salespeople usually possess the level of expertise to be considered SMEs in their fields, but it can be tough to bypass the inherent expectation of ulterior motives.

Here are some tips for aligning your sales team with Sandy’s modern seller’s creed:

Deliver informative content that’s not solely intended to point toward your solution.

“Selling is helping people make decisions in their buying process.” That doesn’t necessarily mean helping someone decide on your solution (though obviously this is the ideal outcome). Consider creating PointDrive presentations consisting solely of objective, informative third-party content that you can share with prospects who are early in the research process. Point them to useful websites and resources. Even if the modern buyer is more self-driven in weighing options, they still appreciate a nudge in the right direction, and will remember it down the line.

When building sales teams, focus on skill sets conducive to helping.

“Are we building capabilities that are most critical in being helpful to customers?” Dave Brock posed this question in an article at CustomerThink last month, and suggested that sales managers should start looking beyond traditional selling skills, with increased emphasis on curiosity, critical thinking/problem solving, project management, collaboration, and resources management.

Know the individual and their business before engaging.

One of the last things you want to do is force the buyer to help you — with understanding their business, their industry, and their circumstances. “I’d certainly appreciate a seller who did all necessary research into our industry needs beforehand, and did not ask unnecessary questions,” said one anonymous respondent in the 2018 Buyer Preferences Survey. With this in mind, do all the learning you can before engaging so you can really take advantage of that “first opportunity you have to deliver value to a prospect.” An individual’s LinkedIn profile, their company’s LinkedIn Page, and their corporate website will usually offer a wealth of info.

Helping is a Big Deal

Most salespeople end up in their profession because of a natural propensity for working with others. Evidence continues to mount that the path to success in modern selling is by playing up your helpful qualities and putting them at the forefront of your sales approach.

Helping others is the way you help yourself, and your team, drive results.

Make sure you never miss out on the latest big deal in B2B sales by subscribing to the LinkedIn Sales Blog.