Sometimes I use the content of my Sunday Newsletter as a blog post later in the week or month. Mostly I do that because people have asked me to put it somewhere that allows them to share it.
I have never used a blog post as a newsletter. But I felt compelled to weave together the essential pieces of three posts I wrote over the last week that all fall under a single theme: How to Sell as a Peer. The reason I was compelled? Because the topics I covered are critical to your success and no one is talking about it.
To Sell As a Peer, You Have to “Go There”
There are dozens of situations in sales (and many other human interactions) where the conversation you need to have is uncomfortable, difficult, and risky.
You can’t avoid talking about your higher price, discussing the repercussions of avoiding change, asking for access to other stakeholders you need to win a deal, or addressing your dream client’s concerns that will cause you to lose a deal if left unresolved.
It’s easy to allow your fear to prevent you from engaging in the conversations necessary to move things forward and instead, avoid the topic altogether.
Your fear will tell you not to “go there.” But not “going there” is to fear the wrong danger. The safest course of action is to “go there.”
When You Must Be a Subject Matter Expert
As the solutions we sell become more and more complex, serving your prospective clients can require that you bring a subject matter expert into the mix. The subject matter expert (SME) has deep knowledge in some area around your solution, something domain specific, like information technology or risk management.
The subject matter expert answers questions that are beyond the capabilities of the salesperson. In many cases, however, salespeople have become dependent on subject matter experts and in doing so have become irrelevant. They’ve absolved themselves of their responsibility to become the advisor part of “trusted advisor.”
If you are in business-to-business sales and the sale is complex, strategic, and potentially full of risk, you must be a subject matter expert in your own right. If you are not, you are irrelevant.
The question your dream client is asking themselves is “Do you know more than me,” and “Do you have a compelling point of view?”
Product knowledge is not enough by itself. You need to be world-class in your space if you are going to be relevant, credible, and irreplaceable. You are going to need to be a subject matter expert.
Courage and Confidence
Courage and confidence are intertwined. They develop together, and they depend on each other as they grow. To succeed in sales you need both, in large quantities.
It takes courage and confidence to take chances and press your prospective client to deal with the changes they really need to make in order to succeed.
It takes courage and confidence to ask for the commitments you need, especially when you know they are going to be difficult to obtain.
You need courage and confidence to show your dream client a big, bold vision of their future, leaving aside your fear of going too far or frightening them off.
The courage and confidence you have around your pricing strategy is what allows your dream client to believe you are worth paying more to obtain.
The great game of sales has changed. Now more than ever, you need business acumen. You need the knowledge to make a difference, and the courage and confidence to step up and be a peer.
If you lead a team, forward this email to your team and require they read the posts. Make them the subject of your weekly meeting, and ask your team how they intend to act on these ideas.
If you are a solo artist, spend time working on your personal and professional development plan. It’s your responsibility, and you can’t wait for your company to train you, if you are lucky enough to have a company that invests in training.
Comment to send me your ideas, thoughts, and stories. I reply to every email, even if it takes me a few days. I’d love it if you would forward this to a friend and ask them sign at www.thesalesblog.com/newsletter.
Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next Week!
P.S. Don’t miss this week’s In the Arena podcast with my friend, Pete Turner. His experiences in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan as a cultural advisor are immediately applicable to what we do in sales.