Becoming a modern sales rep doesn’t just mean using new technology or adopting different processes: It also means changing your mindset.
You might be using an automated sales tool or connecting with prospects on social media, but your efforts won’t come to fruition if you’re still hanging on to outdated beliefs.
Buyers are no longer dependent on salespeople for product information and pricing -- and if they figure out you’re using old-school methods, they’ll steer clear. Read on to learn the mental shifts every quota-crushing rep has already made.
1) Industry Expertise Trumps Product Knowledge
Should you know your product inside and out? Absolutely. But these days, functional knowledge is table stakes. Your prospects can find pricing and feature information online, which means modern reps must find a different opportunity to educate to stay relevant.
That’s why you must understand your prospect’s industry and business. If you’re well-versed enough to offer new insights, buyers will want to spend their time with you. Be a business consultant, not a product description come to life.
2) Resolve Concerns Instead of Overcoming Objections
Whether they voice them or not, almost every prospect has objections. If they didn’t, they probably would have bought already.
Most salespeople realize the importance of bringing those reservations to light. However, many think that closing requires “overcoming” or “handling” them. This mindset is counterproductive: You should be helping prospects understand why the deal is in their best interests.
Think of every objection as a chance to learn more about your prospect’s priorities. Instead of “overcoming” it, resolve it.
3) Social Selling’s Replaced Hitting the Phones
In the past, email and phone were the only two ways to reach buyers. But now there’s a whole range of options: You can tweet at your prospects, engage with them on LinkedIn, comment on their blog posts, and talk to them on Facebook.
According to the Sales Benchmark Index, reps who incorporate social selling into their strategy reach 66% higher quota attainment than those who do not. Modern reps should utilize all the platforms available to them to maximize their chances of success.
Yet only 15% of salespeople contact their prospects through social media. If you’re in the 85% who does not, you should think twice. Social selling takes more time, but it clearly pays off.
4) Lead Quality Matters More Than Quantity
Thinking of sales as a pure numbers game is a recipe for failure. When you focus on the quantity of your leads, rather than the quality, you inevitably end up poor fits and bad opportunities. You spend your time calling as many people as possible instead of focusing your efforts on a smaller group of prospects who could actually benefit from your product at this exact moment.
As Jill Konrath explains, the top reps are spending their time with less prospects, not more. That allows them to think critically about their prospect’s goals and objectives, how they can guide them through the buying process, and where to add value.
5) Collaborate Instead of Controlling the Conversation
Letting your prospect determine the course and content of your conversations is a scary thought for most salespeople. However, forcing them to follow your agenda usually won’t work: Not only will their questions go unanswered, you’ll waste time on things they care less about.
The solution? Incorporate them in the agenda-setting. Once you’ve explained what you’d like to cover, ask, ‘Does that sound good? Is there anything you’d like to add?” When they go down a conversational path you hadn’t planned for, don’t shut them down. On the contrary, adapt the agenda to fit this turn.
Sometimes, your prospects will bring up topics you’d rather discuss further down the line. According to a report from HubSpot Research, 58% of prospects want to talk about pricing on the first call versus 23% of reps. Similarly, 54% of prospects are ready for the product conversation on the first call, yet only 23% of salespeople want to delve into the details.
HubSpot’s VP of Sales Pete Caputa has two recommendations:
Sell value, but don't be afraid to talk price.
Go ahead and talk about product features, but tie them to prospects' challenges and goals.
If you’ve ever struggled to figure out the specific traits separating an ultra-successful salesperson from an average one, now you know the likely answer: The better rep has the right mindset. Adapt your own mindset, and watch your selling abilities improve.
Originally published Sep 22, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017