Inevitably at some point during a sales call, the customer will ask, “Who else have you done this for?” What they’re really asking is why they should believe or trust you. This is why it’s essential that early in the sales process, you establish credibility.
There are many stereotypes of what makes a great sales rep. Outgoing, smooth talker, able to present their solution pitch flawlessly to the client. Confident – sometimes, too confident. You know the profile, right? But there’s a key attribute that’s not always associated with high-performing salespeople, and it might surprise you.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella often speaks of how his career – and his company – have been shaped by empathy. He views it as a quality to be consciously cultivated, practiced, and applied – “not just as something nice to have, but as the core to the innovation agenda in the company.” He believes empathy can be a differentiator when working with clients. Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and understand their situation. It’s the capacity to feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference. It’s not always easy to do.
Every sales leader wants their team to “sell higher,” and it’s easy to understand why. Senior-level executives can make bigger decisions faster than the typical buyers salespeople engage with: low-level technical users, program managers, and mid-level executives. As Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com, once noted, “When I look at [our] largest transactions … every transaction was done with the CEO.” Benioff’s experience is typical of many sales organizations.
One of the biggest challenges for a sales organization is moving upmarket. For example, if you target the small- and medium-sized business market (SMB) and now want to target enterprise customers – that’s where the money is – you need to rethink how you sell. Enterprise and SMB selling are fundamentally different, and each requires its own sales process, metrics, and unique selling skills. At the heart of these differences is size.
“I think that’s what it’s all about: embracing change and being brave.” While this line is very applicable to the events of this past year, it is actually taken from the Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso.” The comedy is about an American football coach who moves to England after he’s hired to manage an English Premier League soccer team. Though the premise is somewhat absurd, his leadership philosophy struck a chord with me.