A Salesperson’s thoughts on Sales Habits of Winners by Jan Ropponen
Just in time for the summer holidays, Jan Ropponen published a new book, Sales Habits of Winners, covering principles for successful B2B sales. Having worked in B2B sales for 9 years now, I was eager to read it and was lucky to get a copy in my hands.
Why should B2B salespeople read the book?
The book is a fictional story about a salesperson called Daniel. It describes him going through the typical sales stages while working with an opportunity to sell financial and accounting services. As the story progresses, the book highlights several important points and arguments that should be taken into consideration in a sales cycle. It also provides concrete assistance for the reader with checklists that can help salespeople review their contributions in their own sales cases. I think the book is likely most useful for less experienced salespeople, but it’s worth reading for senior professionals, too, as it reminds them and gives insights into how to perform high quality sales.
If you’d like to find out more about the book, check out this link: https://janropponen.com/books
Reflections about the nature of B2B selling
This blog isn’t an in-depth review of the book. Instead, I picked some key points in the book, which I find especially important in B2B sales. Here are my thoughts on those.
1. The basis for everything is understanding the customer’s situation and needs
The book highlights the importance of understanding the customer’s situation and needs before going any further in the process. Ropponen writes, “Without a proper diagnosis of the customer’s situation in the beginning of the sales process, it’s impossible to build customer-centric proposals”. I agree. If a salesperson rushes to talk about their own products of services, there’s a good chance that important value drivers for the customer are not taken into consideration, leading into discussions on irrelevant topics. The salesperson might offer something the customer doesn’t even consider buying and both parties are wasting time on non-productive things.
Instead of using the customer’s (and the salesperson’s) valuable time on giving a sales pitch about the features of a product or service, it’s always better to aim for a proper dialogue with the customer about improving their business. After identifying improvement opportunities together, the salesperson has a real chance to come up with a solution to which the customer is more committed to and is more willing to pay for. In best cases, the salesperson can provide valuable consulting for the buyer and build a relationship with them, which can often lead to a long-lasting partnership
2. Consistency is necessary to success in sales
Ropponen started the book by talking about top athletes and appointing out that high performers pay attention to details and learn through routine. When being focused on the quality of everyday actions and identifying opportunities of improvement, through repetition, optimization and self-reflection, performance will improve.
This is true in sales as well. When a salesperson pays attention to how to optimize their behavior in the different stages of the sales cycle, they can improve their routines and make real progress. Sales is not magic, rewards will follow working hard and being consistent, systematic and organized.
3. Know the stakeholders and their roles in the buyer organization
Salespeople might rely on the person with whom they have a good relationship on the customer’s side and believe that they can drive the case forward. However, as the book points out, the salesperson shouldn’t depend on a single contact, who might not be able to sell the idea internally. If the contact person is satisfied in their comfort zones and lack willpower or ability to drive change, then it’s important to build connections with new stakeholders in the organization. The book also suggests that trading is one possible tool in such situations. If a salesperson invests more time and resources on a potential buyer, it’s fair, then, to ask something in return, like including higher decision makers in upcoming meetings.
In some sales opportunities, there may be several, even more than 10 stakeholders, on the buyer side and it’s important for a professional to treat them well. However, when you find the people in the organization, who are capable of driving change and development, having a good relationship with them is a high priority. Most often they are the force behind introducing new opportunities internally and pushing them forward. Supporting them and providing guidance is key to winning their trust and the deal, and often it will also provide new sales opportunities in the future.
Sales Habits of Winners also covered a lot of other aspects of B2B sales, but these three were the ones I wanted to share my thoughts about.
As we’re entering a new Fall with all new sales opportunities ahead, I enjoyed reading this book, thinking about it and reflecting on it through my own experiences as a salesman. For me, it provided valuable insights on what I should pay more attention to in order to become better at my job. I personally recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about B2B sales.
Earlier in Salesframe blog we’ve also discussed about some other fundamentals in B2B selling. If you want to read more, you might find for example our blogs about improving sales productivity and the traits of a successful salesperson interesting.
All the best luck for the Fall and your future sales!
Henri Piipponen, Sales & Marketing Director
+358 50 650 0051