I almost hate to admit that I’ve spent over 20 years in business-to-business (B2B) sales. From being an account manager to being a Vice President, to working with batteries, digital marketing, and a few stops in between, most of my time was spent both building and developing sales organizations. The stigma of being in sales, specifically inside sales, is quickly disappearing. Why? Because the role of sales reps is drastically changing, and companies are finally realizing the value.
So, who’s driving the change and debunking the sales stigmas? Buyers. They don’t need a pushy telesales rep feeding them features and benefits. When I was leading a team of SDRs, BDRs, Inside Sales Reps, and Outside Sales Reps, I noticed certain individuals were killing it, while others simply weren’t. I sought to understand the traits of the reps that were winning. Reps who were exceeding quotas, providing customer value, and, quite simply, making a lot of money. The research found that the reps who were winning, regardless of the sales team they were on, shared common traits.
- Were not selling products or service, they were selling themselves. The customers viewed them as subject matter experts.
- Knew the “language” of the industry or vertical they were selling into. There is a comfort level for the customer when a rep understands the challenges and the needs of the industry or vertical.
- Facilitated the customer through the buying process. There is so much information available now, customers need help throughout the process.
- Were not afraid to ask for the sale. In their mind they were not selling, they were solving customer problems.
Not long ago, companies were hiring outgoing, high-energy individuals that could make 125+ dials per day, who could recite the product features and benefits, and who only cared about making money. That profile will no longer succeed.
Today’s sales recruiting focuses on IQ, problem solving skills, and the ability to process information. Don’t get me wrong, the desire to make money is still there, but being able to help customer solve their problems is a key motivator. The customer has access to all the features and benefits on your website, they don’t need a sales rep to recite them. Instead, they need a trusted advisor. Good sales reps are in high demand because of their knowledge, because of their ability to absorb high levels of information, and because of their dedication to helping customers with a product or service.
My recommendation to the next generation of sales reps:
- Become and subject matter expert with your product, service, or solution. You must understand what challenges your customers face, and how your solution solves them.
- Learn your vertical, and the industry that you are calling into. If you are calling lawyers, understand their world.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for the deal. You are not selling them something. You are not asking for a donation. You are solving a problem, and they will pay for that service.
Whether you’re in sales, are about to be in sales, or are considering joining the sales world, this blue print will help you be successful. In an industry where change is inevitable, and where those who are willing to put in the necessary work will always be rewarded, taking the steps to be a winning rep is not only necessary, but worth it.