The time-honoured tradition of relying on good relationships to make sales is a losing strategy according to a study from CEB, the member-based advisory company. In an age when consensus is king and 80% of sales are lost to customer indecision, the salesperson who teaches the customer new ways to think about their business is the most successful.
The findings confirm that the days of the 'Del Boy' approach, rooted in relying on hard-won goodwill, are numbered. Instead Challengers, who adopt an approach typified by Steve Jobs, lead with insight and anticipate customer needs, making them up to four times more likely to out-perform their peers.
Whereas the Del Boy-types adopt a more submissive mentality and acquiesce to customer demands, the assertive Challenger uses customer relationships as a basis to tackle sensitive topics like price and uses constructive tension to raise the chance of a sale being agreed.
According to a CEB study of more than 6,000 sales executives across 90 companies, the Challenger was found to consistently outperform other sales profiles by nearly 15 percent. The Challenger is defined by their ability to teach, tailor their message and take control, all essential qualities when over half (57%) of B2B purchases have already been decided before the buyer speaks to a salesperson.
Anthony Belloir, managing director at CEB said: "The abundance of information made available to customers means the majority of them have already decided what they want before even engaging with a salesperson. This is a radical shift and has caused a dramatic reappraisal of the qualities of the successful salesperson.
As our research shows, today's star sales performers are those who understand their customers' underlying problems and identify new and better means of solving them, often even before they are aware of the problem themselves. This sea-change can easily be addressed with the right tools, training and coaching, but for those unwilling to adapt, it seems death of the salesman is turning from fiction to a reality."
© Reed Business Information 2013