Sales

What Makes You So Smart?

Genius babyThe key premise of consultative or insight selling is that the salesperson can bring new ideas to clients to show them how to improve their business. Put another way, they can bring solutions to problems the clients don’t yet know they have.

But what gives you the right to do that? What gives you the right to approach someone who has been wrestling with a problem for a long time, and claim that you know something they don’t? What makes you so smart?

It’s a good question, and you know that your clients and prospects will be asking it.

To paraphrase Will Rogers, “Everyone is smart, only on different subjects.”[1] Your perspective is what makes you smart enough to bring insights and tell clients what is good for them. You have three perspective advantages your clients don’t have:

Deeper: The product or service you are selling, stuff and the problems you deal with are your bread and butter; they are well known to you. Unless it’s a recurring purchase, your client may be facing the decision for the first time. Your specialized knowledge makes you smarter than them—at that particular topic.

Wider: Your clients may each individually know a lot about their own industries or geographies, but you—and your company—have a wide variety of clients in different industries and different geographies. Even if you’re facing a novel situation, you have access to a network within your own company and client circles that may have special experience or insight into the problem or opportunity.

Longer: If you’ve been in your position long enough, you’ve likely developed the expert ability to recognize patterns in situations that gives you an intuitive feel for the right way to proceed in solving a problem.

It all adds up to the special advantage of tacit knowledge: There is a widespread misconception that all you need to know is available through search engines, so it’s easy to get intimidated when experts tell you that your prospects have already completed X% of the evaluation process before you get involved in the purchase. But the three advantages of depth, width and length that you have, give you far more knowledge than can be articulated or put into a database. Who is to say that one piece of information might not make the crucial difference between success and failure in the purchase decision? Sometimes, you don’t even know what you know—until the situation challenges you to get creative.

In summary, there are many ways to be “smarter” than your clients in the areas that matter to them. But of course none of these will help you if you are not continuously learning, staying on top of what’s going on in your industry, connecting with other like-minded people—in short, continuously adding to your store of professional expertise.

 


[1] What he actually said was “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”

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