How Confident Sales Reps Prepare for Unpredictable Buyer Interactions

Ask any sales leader what characteristics they look for in an all-star salesperson. You’ll likely hear traits such as hardworking, persistent, organized, and thick-skinned. But how do you really differentiate the traits of superior reps from mediocre ones? We’ve all heard of The Challenger Sale, which graded over 6,000 sales reps on 44 attributes to determine the traits, attitudes and abilities that would likely result in top sales performance. The book found that the top group of sellers, aptly named the “Challenger” group, shared a number of characteristics: they possess a deep understanding of the customer’s needs, have the ability to teach the customer, and can tailor the sale to each specific buyer. These traits all boil down to one necessary attribute: confidence.

All-star sales reps are not born with the ability to understand each customer’s needs or tailor the sale to those needs. It may seem like these reps must spend hours preparing before each prospect interaction to truthfully and naturally build value and trust with the customer. But these in-the-moment reps aren’t the type to burn the midnight oil reading up on a prospect’s priorities, use cases or industry trends. So if they’re not spending hours preparing, where is that confidence coming from?

All-star reps get their confidence from knowing that they are armed with the resources, information, and content necessary to connect with buyers and personalize the buying experience for each. When sales leaders work closely with product and marketing teams to create valuable, buyer-centric content that will resonate with and engage different buyers, their reps are able to guide the buying process in a more prescriptive and effective manner.

Confident reps understand their customers’ needs because those needs have been researched, documented and served up to them in digestible content created specifically for sales empowerment and preparation. According to Forrester, 77% of executive buyers claim that salespeople don’t understand their issues, and 70% claim that salespeople aren’t prepared for the questions they ask. It’s more important than ever for reps to understand each and every buyer, and confident reps do that better than anyone else with content that is tailored and served to them by marketing.

Confident reps are able to teach the customer because they understand the customer’s needs and values, and can introduce buyers to a new frame of mind or way of thinking about their problems and possible solutions. Forrester has also reported that 3 in 4 executive buyers will choose a vendor that helps them shape a vision in a new way. This can be done using relevant case studies that are served to a rep contextually based on the buyer’s industry, role, stage in sales cycle and more, before, during or after a buyer interaction. Buyers who can tangibly see how companies with similar problems solved them in a way they hadn’t thought of are more likely to trust the salesperson who showed them that new vision.

Confident reps are able to tailor the sale to each specific buyer because he or she understands the needs of every stakeholder in the room, and can highlight the benefits of product offerings to every role involved. It takes an average of 5.4 decision makers to sign off on a single purchase, and in today’s buyer-led sales process, reps have no choice but to resonate with every buyer in the room. Reps that are armed with content that is tailored to each role and segmented appropriately know that they have exactly what they need to deliver for each buyer, regardless of the stage in the buying process.

Going into meetings unarmed and unprepared can make even the most self-assured sales rep shudder. Salespeople’s confidence comes from knowing that they have all the resources and support they need to make each prospect meeting as successful as possible. One Seismic customer said that he “can walk into a meeting with more confidence because [he] knows that no matter where the conversation goes, [he] can access the right materials to have a more engaging conversation with that customer.” Confidence doesn’t require hours of preparation and review; the only thing all-star reps need to feel confident going into a prospect interaction is the most relevant, helpful and engaging content right at their fingertips.

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