Show me the money – Improving your odds in Services Business


This is not another Sales 101 article, nor this will make you better at sales. Over 15 years of my sales experience, I’ve lost more deals then I’ve won, have experienced frustration, disappointments, and surprises. It has been fascinating to analyze these wins and losses and able to form a meaningful insight from them. Top sellers delivers exceptional value during and after the sale. What are realities of services selling and how can it be improved?

Introspect – Fact Check

Being confident and assuring that worked well in the past but now are not enough to win the deals. 

  • How well know about their needs and pain points?

Think about it; a customer wants you to know their problem better than they know themselves; otherwise, why would they need you? They can provide an initial idea about a solution, but you need to extend it further. To successfully do this, you must understand in depth the issues, have detailed discussions to outline the detail of the problem. Your attempts to genuinely understanding customer pain points earn credibility in the process. You indicate that you are thinking about their concerns.

  • Relationships may open doors but not close deals.

Relationships only don’t win deals. Having a close relationship is an opportunity, but overestimating it could lead to the pitfall of complacency. Deliver a higher standard of performance then your competitor by making use of the advantage you have. Doing so will increase the respect and will get you the desired edge in the process.

  • It’s all about the experience.

The buying experience has a profound impact on buying choices. Your internal processes and systems make your life easier, but not of a client, if the result is not making a buying process that works for your client. Ask questions again to know the preference of the client how they would like to see information presented and customize the engagement process that fits their expectation.

  • Value is not you think, but what the client perceives.

Nick (named changed) has been with the company for two years and became a top performer. His messaging to the clients has worked successfully. He was assigned to manage a renewal with a long time client. The chances to renew were high due to positive relationships, client satisfaction, and commercially in favor due to high cost in transition involved. He put together a high-quality proposal, engaged the client sponsors, and followed proactively during the entire process. He was bewildered on losing the sale to a competitor. 

Upon reviewing his offer with the customer, he learned that his proposal was technically sound, commercially attractive, but missed a critical detail. The customer wanted to have his people trained on skills to manage the contract effectively. Nick’s proposal did not detail this point, while competitors, on the other hand, made this as one of the fundamental propositions. Nick failed to emphasize a critical point and focus on aspects that he deemed essential. 

The value is in the eye of the beholder. A deeper understanding of what is value for the client is critical for winning. Be mindful of the confirmation bias inside our brain that favors and supports our prior experience and beliefs. To overcome, do intensive fact-finding and confirm it with evidence from the customer. 

  • Insights win over Technique.

Be the problem-solver in the process; bring insights from the engagement. Clients are delighted when sales expand beyond the traditional techniques of selling and deliver more. Focussing on the substance to reach a mutually agreeable solution will pull them to close the deal.  

Do not waste your time on needless compliments, time pressure tactics, and assumptive closing techniques. Your client has seen all of them and does not appreciate them.

What makes a high performer salesperson?

The top performers constitute no more than 20%. There is no clear evidence on what makes them top performers and if their performance stays consistent over the years. 

A high performing salesperson is a work in progress. Having such rainmakers in the organization not only improves the performance but also motivates the people around them. The quality that such rainmakers posses are their ability to stay curious, persistent, and disciplined. They adapt themselves well to navigate through the uncertainty. They actively take initiatives for self-improvement. 

Final thoughts

Customer demands are changing more than ever at an accelerated pace, and we have to accept it as the way it is. But what would always survive through this changing time is need for the consultative seller with a challenger mindset. It is essential to increase the resilience of customer relationships by improving self-competence and extending contribution.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of mine. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any organization.

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Strategy, Growth, P&L | Head of International & APAC at Getronics | Leadership through people