By Jeff Beals
In his new book on selling, Anthony Iannarino asks readers to finish this sentence: “I sell ___.”
He then writes, “If you answered anything other than ‘outcomes,’ you are wrong. If you answered with your product, service or solution, your answer is so off the mark that it might destroy your ability to succeed in sales.”
Iannarino then goes on to quote the late economist Theodore Levitt, who said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.” In other words, customers are purchasing desired outcomes even if they are technically purchasing the means of creating outcomes. Those sellers who realize what they are truly selling have a tremendous advantage over the great mass of ordinary sellers who are obsessed with products and services, features and benefits.
Among 19 meaty chapters of non-stop sales wisdom, the above quotes illustrate perfectly just how much value you’ll find in Iannarino’s The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need (Portfolio Penguin, 2016) which was just released a couple months ago.
Iannarino is an internationally acclaimed sales consultant and trainer as well as creator of one of the world’s most popular sales blogs. In writing the book, he set out to explain why a small number of salespeople in any field are hugely successful, while the remaining common sales folk are mediocre or worse.
Some call it the “80-20” rule (and in some industries, it’s more like the “90-10” rule), but it’s essentially true – Twenty percent of sales people account for 80 percent of the business. Everyone else is fighting over the scraps. I certainly don’t want to dwell among the unexceptional 80 percent and hopefully you don’t either.
So, why the discrepancy among the haves and have-nots in the sales profession? Iannarino’s answer is simple and straight forward – It’s all about the seller. If you are in sales, you and you alone are responsible for your success and failure. In other words, you can decide to be a successful sales professional, and that decision is independent of product, service or industry.
Sales success, according to Iannarino, is not situational nor is about the market. It’s about the individual sales professional. That leads us to a burning question: How do you make sure you’re part of the distinguished 20 percent?
The answer is divided into two parts which correspond to the two primary sections of Iannarino’s book: 1. your mindset, which includes beliefs and behaviors; 2. your skill sets.
The mindsets include self-discipline, positive attitude, competitiveness, resourcefulness, persistence and a few others. Once you thoroughly understand and adopt these mindsets, Iannarino says you can then start mastering the mechanics of selling. Here are thoughts on just a few of his skill sets:
Iannarino argues that selling effectively is all about gaining commitments. You need to be an ethical and consultative seller while assertively asking for commitments. There are numerous mini closes in the buying process such as the commitments to devote time, to explore, to change, to build consensus, and to invest resources. Each time you get a small commitment, you move the buyer closer to the finish line.
Never wait until you need to prospect as it should be something you do perpetually whether times are tough or you have so much business you can hardly keep your breath. Regarding the art of prospecting, Iannarino says, “You can’t cram prospecting. It must be a daily discipline. Block out time every day.” He also says, “Prospecting is a campaign, not an event. It’s a series of touches that lead to a conversation and an opportunity to meet.”
In the olden days of selling, sales people got by as long as they had extensive product knowledge. That’s becoming less important now, because so much information and so many reviews of products are available online. Innarino says today’s “dream clients” want salespeople who will partner with them and guide them to a better future. Clients want trusted advisers. In order to provide that kind of high-level value, you need business acumen.
How do you get business acumen?
Constantly read and study business, get mentors, play close attention to what clients say. Ultimately, you must know much more than what you sell. While this in some ways seems obvious, Iannarino says that business acumen is still rare in sales. Don’t worry so much about product knowledge that you don’t know enough big-picture stuff to help your clients truly improve their R.O.I.
In the end, successful salespeople stay ahead of their competitors in a dynamic selling environment. Because of globalization and many other factors, Iannarino believes that selling is more difficult today than it was in the past. That’s despite all the technological advances that have made a salesperson’s just easier in other ways.
To become an elite sales professional, I highly recommend The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.
I have had the chance to talk with Iannarino on a couple occasions. His brain is packed with sales knowledge and experience. The sales world is fortunate that he finally decided to put that knowledge in a tidy, organized book that delivers amazing value.
Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”
Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:
“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY
“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil
I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here. He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard. Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA
“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team