When I was 13, I sold beanie babies and baseball cards at the flea market. When I was 22, I picked up a copy of SPIN Selling and sold my way to 6 figures. My entire life has been deeply embedded in the world of sales.
I started a software company that serves over 7,000 salespeople. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and read thousands of articles and books on sales. I’ve made it my ultimate mission to deliver the best advice and products that empower top revenue generators around the world.
I’ve been fortunate to learn the single most important theme that exists when it comes to sales. I also believe it to be the biggest shift in the history of our profession.
I’m going to share it right here.
Just 20 years ago we were a different people. The internet didn’t exist. When it came to purchasing stuff we were uninformed and out of touch. The companies we did business with held the keys to the information we sought.
- Held pricing lists, so we had to ask them cost questions.
- Held spec sheets, so we had to ask them whether it did what we wanted.
- Interrupted our work and enjoyment to tell us about their product.
- Held the gate & keys to our purchase delight.
If legacy salespeople lied, cheated us, or treated us with disrespect, there were no pedestals high enough for us to stand upon and tell the world. Legacy salespeople were not compelled to change. They created the reputation of how most of the world looks at salespeople.
They did it by thinking of themselves first and only us second.
Now, the way people live, work, play, educate and share has changed. The way we shop and buy has changed. Today, we’re more educated thanks to the internet. We’re in touch with the global world through the power of social media.
Today as buyers, we’re in charge of our own destiny. We have unlimited choices for almost anything we could want.
Take a journey through your average day and focus on the changes you experience to prove it:
- We used to pickup newspapers, now we subscribe to the type of stories we care about.
- We used to listen to what radio and the music industry wanted us to hear, now Pandora and Spotify learn about us and show us what we love.
- We used to turn on the TV and watch whatever was programmed, now Netflix and on-demand services understand our needs and provide them to us.
These consumer products (and many more) understand us and put us at the center of focus. But many B2B companies are still too far behind.
Only the winning businesses of the future understand this. They’re being led by a group of revolutionary sales professionals.
I’ve interviewed them for hours and continually come back to the same answer:
Salespeople who put the buyer at the center of their universe are winning.
We call them sincere salespeople.
- Sincere salespeople lead first with empathy, honesty and care.
- Sincere salespeople listen to customers and uncover their pains so they can provide a fitting solution.
- Sincere salespeople make commitments and follow through so they can earn buyers’ trust.
- Sincere salespeople research and understand their buyers at the highest level so they can make their lives better and stop wasting their time.
But selling with sincerity is hard. It’s hard to be sincere when you have to hit your numbers. It’s hard to be sincere with outbound sales and email campaigns. It’s hard. But it can be done.
Companies like LinkedIn and Twitter give us opportunities to connect and learn from our buyers like never before. Marketing automation companies help us understand the right time to reach a potential buyer based on their engagement with our sites and emails.
- We help our customers build detailed lists lightning fast so they can better understand their prospects and spend more time connecting with them.
- We alert reps when their people get promotions and change jobs so they can understand their interests and timelines.
- We help them learn the news, events, and major milestones so they can stay in tune with their prospect’s needs.
And we create content daily to help legacy salespeople become sincere salespeople.
Legacy salespeople of the old way obsessed over their own sales process. Sincere salespeople obsess over delivering an exceptional buying experience. They’re about loving and delighting customers.
Transparency, honesty, and sincerity therefore make up the biggest shift in the history of sales. I know it in my bones.
Please be a remarkable seller. Absorb yourself in the world of your buyer and leave your customer feeling like champion. Make them the hero of their world. It’s the secret ingredient to better your career, as well as the sales profession in its entirety.
(Inspired by a life of selling, a ton of reading, and last week’s mind-blowing trip to INBOUND 2013.)