6 Vital Skills to Stand Out and Sell More

Jul 7, 2022
Collin Stewart

How can outbound sales reps stand out in a sea of competition? When every salesperson sounds the exact same, it’s time to do things differently. 

Dale Merrill is a highly sought-after international speaker, sales thought leader, and co-author of Strikingly Different Selling: 6 Vital Skills to Stand Out and Sell More. Dale joined the Predictable Revenue podcast to break down those six skills and how we can use them to drive revenue growth.

Sales development is a sea of sameness

Dale first encountered this problem when outbound sales leaders started approaching him asking how they could stand out more. Their reps were having a hard time booking meetings, and when they did, they weren’t closing the deal. 

The problem was that these sales development reps (SDRs) looked and sounded like everyone else. So Dale and his co-authors began to investigate how reps could stand out in a different and better way–a way that actually resonated with their clients.

What we’re missing in outbound sales

Working with several global companies, Dale and his colleagues reviewed over 2800 top outbound sales professionals and watched almost 1700 client meetings. After each meeting, they sat down separately with both the salesperson and the client to ask how they each thought the meeting went.

The general response was that salespeople thought it went well or even very well. Unfortunately, their clients didn’t share the same opinion. Most C-Suite clients described the meeting as a waste of their time. 

When Dale and his team probed a little deeper to understand the disconnect, they found that these clients had actually been looking forward to the meeting, but it ended up falling short of their expectations. Many of them said something along the lines of, “It wasn’t the dialogue we were hoping to have.”

So where are we going wrong?

The two biggest mistakes salespeople make

After talking more with the clients, Dale identified two key problems with the traditional outbound sales approach:

  1. Salespeople talk too much–about themselves, their company, and their product. Instead, they should be focused on listening to the prospect.
  2. All salespeople look and sound the same. 

After partnering with an intelligence agency, Dale was able to analyze over 19,000 outbound sales interactions, and what they found was that 42% of the time, buyers couldn’t tell the difference between sellers.

These findings led Dale and his co-authors to develop a new framework for sales development, one that lets reps see themselves from the client’s point of view.

Client-focused sales development

The foundations of this framework focus on every sales interaction being three things: relevant, distinct, and memorable. 

Relevant means focusing on what matters to the client, distinct means the salesperson must show them something different and better than the competition, and memorable means making the experience easy to share and hard to forget. 

The end goal is that a meeting goes so well, that the client shares their experience around the coffee machine the next day because it stood out so much.

6 skills to stand out and sell more

1. Capture attention with verbal billboards

Capturing the client’s attention is key to any sales process. Get to the point quickly, and sum it up like you would on a billboard.

The key is to whittle everything down to one core message, what Dale refers to as the roof of the house. Inside the house are all of the messages the salesperson wants to share with the client, but the roof is the most important message–the key headline or takeaway. Focus on the roof before diving into the rest of the house. 

After your billboard message, you can include a few “from to” subheadings. Show how the client will go from their current state to their desired future state. Many salespeople focus on the benefits a client will achieve, but they forget to juxtapose that with the client’s current situation.

2. Create excitement 

The next step after capturing a prospect’s attention is to generate excitement. Taking a cue from Hollywood movie trailers, follow this basic formula: capture attention + create interest + call to action. 

3. Build credibility and confidence 

After you’ve captured attention and generated interest, you need to build credibility. The best way to do this is through “flashbacks” or stories of past clients. The more specific you can be with these the better. 

For example, during a meeting, a salesperson might say to the prospect: “As we’ve been talking, I couldn’t help but think about another client who was in a similar situation. Let me share a bit of their story with you, what we achieved together and why that might matter to you. Then we’ll come back to dig a little deeper into your situation.”

Remember to keep this short and be respectful of the client’s time. Invite curiosity and let them ask you for more.

4. Differentiator 

The key to differentiating is to have a point of contrast. When you say your product is different, think “relative to what?” Instead of attacking your competition, try to compare your solution to how a generic example of someone else might approach the situation.

If you need help with a competitor analysis or perfecting your messaging, book a free assessment call with us! 

5. Get curious

Always approach sales meetings with an attitude of curiosity. Take the time to pause and validate any assumptions you’ve made. Ask the client to confirm your understanding of the situation, then ask further questions to find any gaps you may have missed.

6. Navigate traffic lights

Building off the fifth skill, remember that you have to earn the right to ask questions. Most salespeople start off a meeting by talking at the client, rather than having a two-way conversation. Try to put yourself in the buyer’s position and consider what that feels like. 

Most clients don’t want a salesperson to go on for more than two minutes before they start asking questions. Learn to pay attention to what signals the client is putting out, and whether they’re giving you a green, yellow, or red light.

Standing out drives revenue growth

When most salespeople look and sound the exact same, that’s an opportunity for you to stand out. By following these tactics, not only will you create a more memorable experience for the client but you’ll also win more deals.

If you want to connect with Dale to learn more about how to stand out in outbound sales, check out the book on Amazon or reach out via LinkedIn.

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