In one of our recent Lives, Justyna Brownbridge, Chief of Growth at Tribal Impact, spoke to Douglas Cole, Enterprise Sales Leader from LinkedIn, about what the mindset of a successful modern seller looks like.
You can watch the full interview below, or read the summary of what they discussed in this blog.
Douglas, who is a renowned expert in the subject of B2B sales, believes that to be successful at sales, it requires more than just skills and tools. Without the right mindset, a salesperson will never achieve their full potential.
During the interview, he explained that mindset has huge implications for how you show up. It’s ‘the lead domino.’ Getting a new tool or growing your skills won’t change anything if you’re not building your mindset, too.
Mindset is your theory of the game – your theory of yourself and the way you see the game you’re playing. – Douglas Cole.
The Three Stages of a Sales MindsetDouglas has found that when someone’s starting out in sales (stage 1), they’re usually uncomfortable, consciously or subconsciously, because they’re trying to get a busy stranger to buy something that may or may not be necessary. They try to solve this by being as likeable as possible.
As someone gets better at sales (stage 2), they think about what’s in their interest, what’s in their client’s interests, and how they can engineer a win-win outcome.
To reach the third level, he said ‘you need to recognise the limitations of the previous two stages. This requires some level of experience’.
Here, you graduate to thinking beyond being charming and getting a win-win outcome. ‘It’s about operating as a trusted advisor – someone who’s achieved a plausible level of objectivity on the client’s problem. This is where you’ll find the top sellers’.
The Three Dimensions of Empathy
According to Cole, traditional sales programs advise sellers to empathise with their clients if they want to get better. He believes that’s good advice, but it needs to be taken further when you’re talking about B2B buying and becoming a trusted advisor.
That’s why he divides empathy in B2B into understanding three dimensions: external, organisational, and interpersonal.
- What’s happening in their external environment?
- What’s determining whether the company is gaining or losing its competitive advantage?
- What’s really going on?
- What themes are getting a lot of attention?
- Who’s influencing decisions and cultural evolution?
- What really matters to this person?
- What will get them to care/take action?
Once you see how things are operating on those three levels, you can step it up and work on becoming a trusted advisor.
How to Succeed in Sales
In the interview, Justyna referenced LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2022. It revealed that salespeople who hit 150%+ of their sales target don’t spend more time making sales than average performers. Instead, they focus on doing careful research before beginning their outreach. That same report shows that 82% of top performers always do their research before reaching out to prospects.
Douglas suggested using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to learn insights like how fast a business is growing and how often they’re posting new jobs. You can then compare that growth in headcount and function to what LinkedIn believes are the company’s competitors in the market.
Some things to research:
- What’s the relevant performance of the company compared to its competitors?
- What’s driving the above?
- What’s their growth strategy?
- What are they trying to do differently?
Once you have the answers, you can build hypotheses around them.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator – a Sales Research Tool
To get the most out of any Sales Navigator research, Douglas advised finding people who’ve joined the company within the last year.
Why were they hired? What’s their expertise? What change are they trying to drive?
These new people are important to know because they want to create an impact, so it’s worth finding time on their calendars to understand what their goals are.
He also suggested looking for any alumni of your current company who now work for your target organisation as they’ll be receptive to outreach.
If there’s an organisation you have a strong relationship with, research alumni of that company at the target organisation, too.
You can then use all these connections as a basis for building your understanding.
Modern Seller’s LinkedIn Presence
Douglas has found that most people, traditionally, treat their LinkedIn profile like an online resume: it’s written in the third person, lists their career accomplishments, etc.
Clients look at your profile, though. And appealing to them requires a different approach.
LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report backs this up – about 1/3 of sellers (31%) told it that they’ve closed deals over $500,000 without ever meeting the buyer face to face. Douglas explained that your LinkedIn profile is a key part of that strategy, building your authority in the early stages of a new relationship.
One of his tips is to use a story on your profile. This will show what gives you energy, what drives you, and what you aspire to. It also makes clear what matters to you, your expertise, and your competitive advantage.
The Sales Branding Problem
Some sellers out there sell things they don’t believe in, which has damaged the buyer/seller dynamic. Douglas feels this has made people more sceptical of sales conversations.
One way you can remove this assumption is by talking about what drives you. What helps you deliver value to clients? How do you derive energy from bringing value to a customer? What is it about the process that gives you satisfaction?
When you define what’s interesting and motivating to you, you get to a value-driven outcome. This goes a long way to establishing you as someone who’s in sales for the right reasons.
Being a successful modern seller is all about the right mindset. Having empathy is a good start, but there are three dimensions to it in B2B: external, organisational, and interpersonal. A tool that could help you explore these and become a better researcher – a skill that top sellers have mastered - is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Deep research helps you become a trusted advisor in your industry, taking your selling skills to the next level.
If you’d like to activate your salespeople online, get in touch today to find out how we can help.