In the first of a three-part series, Will Anastas, previously the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Corporate Sales, shares the lightbulb moments that led to introducing a new sales discovery method to his team and the payoff they’ve seen as a result. Read part two here and part three here.
Sales has changed a lot in 20 years. It used to be about cold calling more than anything else. There wasn’t really a need to know that much about your customer. It was a hustle game, a shark tank. At my first sales job, we were basically given a phonebook to make calls from and I was psyched because I was assigned a good letter. I’d call and say “How are you doing? I'm from XYZ company, and I'd like to spend two minutes talking about what our company is and what we do.” When there was interest, I'd keep going. If I was talking to a rental car company, for example, I had a basic understanding of what it did and that was enough.
Now there’s been a big shift in sales. Customers expect you to know about them, so not only what the rental car company does, but what it specializes in (i.e., corporate/leisure), what the relationship is between the company and its top-tier customers, how it’s differentiating itself in a crowded marketplace, what are the pain points in the customer experience, and so on.
That last piece is the difference maker, but it’s a step in the process that is easily skipped. Salespeople are expected to close fast, so they tend to take the path of least resistance and go on the internet to do their research. There’s so much information out there about companies today, that you feel, as a salesperson, that you’ve got this.
Salespeople also tend to fall into a prescriptive rut. A client, or “patient,” calls, presents his or her “symptoms” (i.e., “I have this problem, this problem, and this problem.”) And the salesperson says, “Oh, fantastic, let me give you this ‘prescription,’ our product. It will solve this, this, and this.” The client takes the salesperson’s prescription. We get our deal. Boom. Everybody’s happy. Right?
But what if the customer (patient) presented his or her symptoms and instead the salesperson said, “Okay, I understand you have those symptoms. However, I have spent time with the patient and understand what he or she is going through and here’s what I think the root causes are. And actually, along with the three symptoms you told me about, there are four more. Not only will my prescription solve for the first three, if you take these two additional ‘medications,’ it will also treat the other four symptoms you didn’t even realize you had.” That extra layer of curiosity is the game changer.