Stop Selling And Start Leading


“Today’s savvy buyers are impatient with old-school selling tactics and stereotypical sales behaviors,” explain the authors of the new book, Stop Selling And Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen. “Today’s buyers have enormous power and information and more choices than ever before,” add the authors, James Kouzes, Barry Posner and Deb Calvert. 

What’s more, there is a large disconnect, for example, between what customers want to discuss in the first sales call versus what sales reps typically cover, according to a  2016 HubSpot Sales Perception Study. 

For instance, while buyers most want to talk about:
  • What my company is trying to achieve with the purchase
  • The reasons my company needs to make the purchase
  • My company’s overall goals
sellers most want to talk about:
  • Pricing
  • How the product/service works (a product demo)
So, if you sell, you need to read this book. It’ll teach you how to leverage the power of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership to consistently make extraordinary sales. And, in a manner fitting for today’s buyer. 

You’ll learn how to:
  • Inspire, strengthen and motivate buyers.
  • Build bonds of trust with your buyers.
  • Provide meaningful and relevant experience.
The Five Practices created developed by Kouzes and Posner are all about these behaviors:
  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart
The book teaches you how each practice is linked to today’s modern buyer preferences. Plus, you’ll learn how to interact with buyers to:
  • Cause an overwhelming feeling and admiration or respect.
  • Provide the unexpected that triggers a euphoric response.
  • Connect with buyers personally.
  • Enable buyers to participate in creating what they want.
  • Make buyers feel significant or important.
The authors explain that, “in selling, the central task is inspiring a shared vision, not selling your personal ideas and preferred future state.” They also recommend using storytelling, because “people are twenty-two times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story.”

Deb Calvert

Today, Deb Calvert shared these additional insights about selling:

Question:  When did the change to today's new type of buyer take place? And, what primarily drove the change?

Calvert:  This change has been taking shape for over a decade. In 2004, in a book called, The Future of Competition, changes like the ones described by buyers in our research study were predicated by C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy who wrote "We're entering a 'bottom-up' economy in which consumers will migrate to businesses that allow them to be participants in the process of creating what they want."

What's driving changes in buyer preferences is that they are empowered. They have easy access to more information and options than ever before. That's why the only true differentiator these days is the customer experience -- and buyers are demanding meaningful experiences from sellers.

We started our research with the hypothesis that sellers who demonstrated leadership behaviors more often would create an "awesome connecting experience" for the buyer. Our research with buyers and stories from sellers proved that buyers respond very favorably to sellers who differentiate themselves by showing up as leaders who create these special experiences.

QuestionIf you are a salesperson who wants to start selling and start leading but have a supervisor who insists on the old-school style of selling, what should you do? 

Calvert:  The good news is that the behaviors of leadership don't require any special knowledge, skills, systems or permissions. These behaviors are about the interpersonal relationships sellers form with their buyers. They can fit inside an established sales process. They don't  interfere with activity standards and, in fact, they will help sellers meet quotas. A seller can simultaneously do the work of selling while showing up as a leader. And sales managers won't object to the improved results that come with these behavioral shifts that cause buyers to meet with and buy from the sellers who demonstrate these behaviors more frequently!

The exceptions would be places where sellers are required, for example, to stick to a script that doesn't allow for natural conversation. In those cases, unfortunately, there's not a lot of room for leadership behaviors or even human-to-human interaction. We're focused on the majority of sellers who do have a choice between conducting transactions and connecting for transformations. Stop Selling & Start Leading is about how to make extraordinary sales happen. 

QuestionWhat do you do when you do your best to connect with your buyer using the techniques from your book, but that buyer just won't open up?

Calvert:  No approach is going to yield a 100% rate of buyer openness. We know from buyers in our study and sellers who contributed stories that demonstrating these leadership behaviors more frequently will help sellers create faster and stronger connections with buyers. If these behaviors are consistently demonstrated but don't result in a buyer opening up, then I'd recommend a direct question. I'd coach a seller to ask a buyer "what could I be doing differently to open a dialogue with you?" The purpose of that question is to help the seller understand what's missing in the connection and why the buyer doesn't perceive value in time spent with the seller. Humbly listening to the buyer's response will give a seller good insights for additional behavioral modifications.  

Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

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