Leading with Value: How to Build Better Sales Connections
“Do you have 15 minutes to chat? Here’s my calendar link. Are you the right person to discuss my cool product with?”
I’ve worked in sales for 25+ years, and I hate these messages. For me, they simply don’t work. But my email and LinkedIn inboxes are filled with them from reps trying to get my time or attention. By the way, I have not been abducted by aliens or gotten lost searching for sasquatch! I will say though, this is always top of mind for me as my team is also trying to get prospects’ time and interest. That’s why this is such an important topic to me.
If (and it is a VERY big if) you can get their attention, you have roughly five percent of a customer’s time, according to Gartner. That time is even more valuable now with a growing buying consortium, most of which is now virtual and often only in the deal cycle for a fleeting moment. So, if sales is all about building relationships and trust, how do you do that effectively today? How do you do it at the accelerated speed of your business?
We Need to Approach Sales Interactions Differently
From what I’ve seen, many reps are approaching sales interactions the wrong way. They’re focused on selling, rather than focusing on bringing value to solve a potential customer’s problem.
Some time ago, I was with Miller Heiman Group. The CSO Buyer Insights study hit home and changed my approach considerably. And it’s greatly responsible for my success here at Xactly. One stat that stuck out is that 70% of the buying journey occurs before interacting with the seller. Another stat that was quite scary was that sellers ranked 9th as a resource. How did we get here?
For me, the approach that makes the most sense is LinkedIn. It is a resource for leaders to get information. They use it to learn, solve problems, and seek out advice from their network. But too many reps use InMail or connection requests as just another communication method.
IT IS NOT!!
“We know this same guy, let’s connect!” “I am growing my network, connect with me.” It sounds like the guy at the networking event that intros himself and asks about your insurance needs 30 seconds into the conversation.
The hard part is patience. Sellers need to learn that trust builds over time in small increments. And today, that means providing value every step of the way, every time you communicate, no matter the medium. The term I use a lot is “getting in the prospects line of site with value.” Our job is to help customers solve problems, but we need to earn the right to do that.
As corny as it sounds, my favorite analogy for this comes from my personal life. I own a horse farm, and on weekends I am often on my tractor (yes, honestly). People drive by and wave, sometimes I may see them, most often not. Others honk then wave, I typically see them and wave back even if I am not sure who they are (it’s just southern courtesy). But with regularity comes recognition.
The difference is the honk got me to look up. That put them in my line of sight, so when they waved, I saw them. If you are not showing up in my line of sight, you are just another waver driving by at 45mph. You are just sending me blind communications. You get attention and build trust by sharing insights a buyer can use, but you must add value but not sell. Connecting is the honk, insight sharing is the wave.
Motivating Reps to Lead with Value
So how do you change seller behaviors and their mindset on engagement? How do you create an environment where they ditch the 15-min meeting invite and instead lead with value? Management by Objectives (MBOs) is a great place to start.
I’ve always loved the phrase “what gets measured gets done.” But what do you measure?
A friend of mine, Brandon Lee, and I speak on this topic quite often. He shared the Triangle of Social Selling with me. It’s been really helpful to show reps how to approach connecting with value. And it really only encompasses three behaviors:
- Connections: Grow your network with those that will find the most value in what you share. Don’t ask for anything. Just focus on the value you bring to the relationship.
- Content: Regularly share content giving perspectives on the problems they face, and insights into solving them.
- Engagement: Likes and comments are important, but I have always leaned on direct shares of posts, content, blogs, and ebooks to add value. Consider it making a deposit to the social bank so to speak.
Is this the end-all solution? NO!! By no means. Social is no different than any other prospecting motion sellers must make. But it is one part of an omnichannel effort to grow the seller's value with prospects, create trust, and build awareness.
So what does this look like for a seller? Consistency, like any other prospecting motion, is key. Sellers must have the rigor, creating a habit to do these activities daily. It is a process, not an overnight solution.
Compensation is a great way to reinforce this seller behavior. Having a seller lean in and be comfortable in this area is rare, but sellers are motivated by their compensation plans. This means reps develop stronger relationships, which helps them build a healthier pipeline and long-lasting relationships built on value.
To learn more about how you can build leading with value into your team’s compensation plans, download our “Guide to Successfully Managing Sales Compensation.”
And if you enjoyed this and want to see more, I would remiss if I did not offer the opportunity to chat directly with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davelewark/.