In Sales Competition Does Not Discriminate

Salespeople need to be creators and connectors to stand out

Here is a major challenge for salespeople: the market is highly competitive, and the competition is only getting more intense. Research from the Corporate Executive Board “highlights how the sales profession is getting smaller.” This is in part a byproduct of automation and its impact on both stalwart industries (e.g., insurance) and the general sales process. Specifically, because of the proliferation of information technology, consumers increasingly enjoy easy access to a wide array of options as well as information they need to make their buying decisions. This has resulted in an enormous challenge for salespeople: they are increasingly removed from the actual buying decision. It is also a major reason that, in 2015, only 57.1 percent of sales representatives met their quotas.
The best way to compensate for market pressure is to do things to stand out.

You can accomplish this in part by doing the following:
Following through and doing what you say you are going to do (e.g., sending follow-up information whenyou said you are going to send it). This is somethingthat is rare in business and still rarer in life. Thoughtfulness can also pay enormous dividends. For example, congratulating a client on a major life event (e.g., a wedding) shows concern for someone beyond your business relationship. So, at one level, standing out involves being conscientious and showing a genuine interest in the client’s broader well-being. Go the extra mile.

Stand out by leading with insight when communicating with the client. While I sometimes try to stand out by demonstrating to clients how hard I am working, that persistence will not make a significant impact unless I am consistently leading with insight when communicating with the client, which is critical for standing out. The key is to make sure that you are sharing concrete, helpful information. It may also take the form of sharing something in physical form by mailing or giving it to the customer. (I am a big supporter of sharing information with customers in physical form. Most people today do not receive things physically in the mail. By doing this, you mix up the medium of communication, and the customer often remembers. It is also worth noting that leading with insight sometimes requires not making yourself completely and immediately available. This is not to play games; rather, it can be part of an effort to make the most of your interactions. For example, if a client requests a call, I might suggest that we wait two business days to have the call and ask the client to send me read-ahead materials or questions in advance so that I can make the most of the client’s time.

Ultimately, salespeople who proactively engage with clients and bring new information to the client often have better conversations, which lead to the customer giving the salesperson more time, which leads to better conversations. This dialogue, often about the information the salesperson has led with, helps open the client’s eyes to something thathe/she may not have known about, and enables the salesperson to learn more about what the client is thinking andwhat he/she needs. It also helps to establish trust, which is vital for reinforcing the emotional connection.


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