Business growth analysis with high speed motion blur
ATD Blog

Driving Sales Velocity in a Challenging Market: 4 Traits of Top Sellers

Thursday, November 16, 2023

In the evolving sales landscape, understanding what drives success can often seem like deciphering an enigma. However, if we look closely, patterns begin to emerge that delineate successful sellers. To discern these traits, SBI studied frontline sellers, managers, and sales development representatives and identified four definitive selling approaches, each characterized by specific competencies and behaviors.

These approaches include narrowing, provoking, translating, and anticipating. Each approach is intriguingly different and plays a critical role in shaping the trajectory of successful selling.

  • The Narrowing Approach: Sellers, also known as navigators, are the confident leaders in the sales process. Equipped with a deep understanding of the product or service they’re selling, they can guide the customer along the buying journey. They’re skilled at identifying each buyer’s unique needs and are adept at addressing any objections or concerns that may arise. Their ability to provide clear and concise information helps to alleviate any confusion or uncertainty, facilitating a smoother and more efficient buying process.
  • The Provoking Approach: Sellers using the provoking approach utilize their persuasive skills to evoke a strong sense of urgency in their customers. They’re skilled at vividly portraying the potential benefits of their solution, compelling buyers to act swiftly. Rather than simply responding to client needs, they challenge clients, pushing them to consider new perspectives and opportunities.
  • The Translating Approach: The translators, or those who use the translating approach, are the empathetic communicators of the sales world. They’re excellent listeners who take the time to understand their customers’ needs, concerns, and goals. With this understanding, they can tailor their offerings and position themselves as trusted partners. Their dedication to customer satisfaction is a key factor in their success.
  • The Anticipating Approach: Sellers adopting the anticipating approach stand out for their proactive and forward-thinking nature. They’re always one step ahead, anticipating customer needs before they arise. This predictive ability allows them to offer innovative solutions and seize opportunities before their competitors do. Their proactive approach helps them establish strong relationships with their clients and significantly improves their probability of closing a sale.

The Impact on Sales Cycles and Choosing the Right Approach

The study uncovered some intriguing findings about these four approaches. One of the key findings was that using a narrowing or provoking approach might lead to longer sales cycles, potentially extending them by 20–22 percent. On the other side of the spectrum, the translating and anticipating approaches can reduce the time it takes to complete a sales cycle. This data suggests that, for sellers aiming to successfully wrap up the year, acquiring a deep understanding of customer dynamics and employing empathy becomes paramount.


The Paradox of Speeding Up by Slowing Down

Another finding is the seemingly counterintuitive concept that slowing down during the sales process can, in fact, lead to deal acceleration. This highlights the need for sellers to approach their work thoughtfully and deliberately rather than rushing to push out as much as possible. By taking the time to understand the customer, sellers can address them and move the deal forward more effectively.


The Current State of Selling and the Way Forward

Unfortunately, data indicates that most sellers today prioritize a less productive, push-based approach. This goes against the grain of leaders and sales teams who are pressured to accelerate deals and encourage customers to close. It’s important to identify and enable frontline managers to coach to the preferred approaches.

Understanding and leveraging these four selling approaches can pave the way to greater success in the complex sales world. Which approach resonates with your selling style?

About the Author

Ray Makela is the general manager of SRG, a part of SBI. He oversees all training client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation, and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.