Sell the product benefits. Book the demo. Get them a free trial. Present the pitch deck.
We hear these ideas from sales pundits all the time. We want buyers to experience our product or service and see everything it has to offer. We develop long presentations and demos showing them the ins and outs and the numerous fancy, flashy things our offering can do for them.
But does it matter?
Or, at least not as much as most people think. In RAIN Group’s What Sales Winners Do Differently research, we studied 42 factors that separate winners of major sales from second-place finishers.
In the study, 47.9% of buyers agreed or strongly agreed the seller they did not choose “offers products and services superior to other options.” This bears repeating: about half of the time, the sellers who lost had superior offerings.
Think about this for a minute. Why would a buyer, seeing that the offering is superior with one company, choose someone else? What makes the difference?
The seller. Organizations that invest in their sellers, prioritize their development, and invest in their skills are the ones that come out on top.
What the Best Sales Organizations Do Differently
In a subsequent study, The Top-Performing Sales Organization, certain factors rose to the top of what Top Performers—those organizations that are more likely to reach their sales goals, have higher win rates, discount less often and so on—do differently than The Rest:
- Factor #1: Our sales organization is effective at maximizing sales to existing accounts
- Factor #2: Our company leaders prioritize developing sellers to be as valuable to our buyers as possible
- Factor #3: Assessing seller skills, knowledge, and attributes that support top sales performance
- Factor #4: Seller skills in core consultative selling
- Factor #5: Accounts are assigned to people best suited to succeed with them
- Factor #8: Seller skills in driving and winning individual sales opportunities
- Factor #11: Seller skills in driving account growth
It’s also worth noting a factor that did not separate Top Performers from The Rest:
- Factor #72 (dead last): The potential for revenue growth in our current offering set is exceptional
The offerings at a company may be fine—compelling even—but it’s not the better mousetrap that gets them beating the path to your door.
It’s your sellers.
Take a look at Factor #2: “Our company leaders prioritize developing sellers to be as valuable to our buyers as possible.” Top-Performing Sales Organizations have it right. They might focus on having a better mousetrap, and that’s a good thing, but that doesn’t get them wins.
It’s their focus on making their sellers valuable to buyers that gets results.
In selling today, the seller is the differentiator and offers the competitive advantage.
Top-Performing Sales Organizations follow through with this priority by investing in assessing sellers’ skills and developing them for top performance. Across the sales skills we studied, the top four areas (in order) where Top Performers reported stronger skills than The Rest were:
- Core consultative selling
- Managing time, focus, and personal effectiveness
- Driving account growth
- Driving and winning sales opportunities
The largest and smallest gaps between Top Performers and The Rest clearly indicate how important an effective sales organization is when it comes to achieving the best results, how strong sellers’ skills are, and how effective the organization is at building those skills.
If you’re looking for a place to improve your sales, don’t point fingers at the product development team. Look to your sales organization and how you’re supporting sellers’ development in becoming more valuable to buyers.