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Sales Success: Listen and Learn, Don’t Tell to Sell

Equip your sales team with the skills and resources to take on any challenge or unexpected turn.

For too many years, sales success went to those with the most energy, persuasiveness, instinct, and tribal knowledge. Those days are over.

As Steve Rietberg, VP analyst in the sales practice at research firm Gartner, puts it: “Advancements in sales technology, particularly in the areas of AI and ML, are forcing sales enablement leaders to rethink seller skills they will need to teach and enable. Sellers can no longer exclusively rely on intuition-based selling to push a deal over the finish line. Tomorrow’s sellers must learn to use data today to effectively manage their sales cycles, as the use of information will become more critical to their success over time.”

When sellers utilize the right processes, systems, and data, they cover every base and become more efficient. Deal strategy becomes more specific. You dramatically reduce wasted cycles, and instead focus on the accounts and deals with the highest probability of closing.

Feedback and information are a seller’s best friends. They’re necessary ingredients for success. A structured, repeatable way to capture feedback and information is highly advantageous over an improvisational style.


Data and Diagnosis-Driven Selling

Data and diagnosis-driven selling leads to solutions that solve client problems. They are never pitches. Instead, you describe how your solution solves problems, alleviates pain, or creates new opportunities in the context of your prospect’s business.

The ten steps to a data and diagnosis-driven selling process are as follows:

  1. ICP (Ideal customer profile) established: Once you establish an ICP, the seller fills out the ICP template, which produces a score. Management then approves the account if the score is sufficient.
  2. Expectation-setting: The seller sets expectations about the initial meeting as a diagnostic session to discuss prospect objectives and goals.
  3. Initial meeting/business diagnosis: The initial meeting in which the primary objective is understanding the prospect’s business objectives and personal preferences.
  4. Functional diagnosis: Specific diagnosis to get into more detail on the prospect’s functional needs as it relates to your solution.
  5. Solution design: The creation of a bespoke recommendation of your product and service offerings thoughtfully combined to address the client’s needs uniquely.
  6. Solution design validation: Briefly check in with a coach to get feedback on solution design and solicit advice on presenting to a group of decision-makers.
  7. Presentation and demo: Customize a presentation addressing the client’s needs.
  8. Proposal: Present your financial proposal to the client in the context of a return on investment-oriented formula.
  9. Negotiation and close: Finalize pricing, terms, and conditions. Gain commitment and develop and agree upon an onboarding plan.
  10. Activation and onboarding: Begin to implement your solution.

While that may seem like a lot, the comprehensive nature of this process means that sales teams have the skills and resources to take on any challenge or unexpected turn. You probably think ten steps is too much. And you may be right! Much of the time, all ten steps are not needed. But it’s good to have them in your toolbox.


Mark Petruzzi has worked in the enterprise software and cloud software ecosystem for 25 years. He has held senior leadership positions at Oracle, UKG (Ultimate Software), HCL, Petruzzi is co-author, along with Bob Scarperi, Ray Rike and Paul Melchiorre of Data and Diagnosis Driven Selling (TechGro Media, November 29, 2023). Learn more at Data Driven Selling.


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