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Fifty-seven percent of the information buyers need they gather on their own before they’re even in touch with a salesperson, meaning it’s more important than ever for salespeople to be sharp, prepared, and add new value. Sellers are not only wasting time, but annoying buyers, by pushing content and messages on them that are irrelevant or that the buyer already knows.

Recently, Seismic Co-Founder and President Ed Calnan and Seismic Go-To-Market Advisor John Boucher, spoke on this topic to the B2B Sales Show podcast, including how good sales leaders can cultivate a culture in which their sales teams act as consultants, rather than just sellers.

Between the two of them, Ed and John have close to 40 years of sales experience, with Ed having previously led sales teams at ADP, Thomson Financial, S&P and EMC, and John having previously been the SVP of North American Sales at Oracle where he led over 1,500 sales/pre-sales professionals and was responsible for $500m P&L.

We summarized some of the key learnings from the B2B Sales Show podcast episode, The Makings of a Good Sales Leader: Focusing on the Important vs. The Urgent with Ed Calnan and John Boucher, here:

 The Power of Preparation

According to John and Ed, there is no substitute or shortcut for being prepared, and being equipped with information on how the seller will fulfill the buyer’s pain points. Chief revenue and chief sales officers, for example, are always looking for ways to beat their numbers. A seller must be prepared with a story and content that addresses exactly that.

“You have to show up prepared with tools and technologies. Educate yourself on business problems that prospects are trying to solve. I don’t think you’ve ever needed to be more prepared as a seller as you do today…” – Ed

“Good salespeople are always prepared. They’re tirelessly prepared. That would be one. Two would be they are provocative, they are thought leaders. When they walk into a room, they are going to bring a POV and thesis that says we will make you better in XYZ…whether it’s sales productivity, in the Seismic world, or marketing efficiency. We can make you better and here’s how and here is who we’ve done it with before…” – John

Balance “Science” and Gut

Ten years ago, closing a deal was heavily reliant on trusting your gut. This hasn’t gone away, but in 2019, with tools like Seismic that allow for granular content analytics at sellers’ fingertips, sales execution intelligence should be based in insights and data.

“I think sales as a function is a fair bit of science, given today’s tools and technology. So much information you can get about a business. Leaders in the new generation of sales should be using analytics to drive their business…” – John

The way sales should rely on data and analytics, isn’t much different than how some of our favorite sports teams rely on data and analytics to win, and make it look easy:

“We’re in the NBA final seasons…the Warriors seems to have a lot of talent and great players, but I guarantee you they are using analytics to figure out how they are going to do match ups, spacing, what kind of plays they’re going to run, there is a ton of analytics behind what they’re doing. To the pedestrian they just look like a talented team, but I would suggest it’s both. Sales is the same way. Have to have a great team on the floor, but you have to have analytics and business acumen to think through how to best utilize people, assets and team.” – John

Winning Boils Down to Basics

While the way a story is told and to whom may have changed over the years, the basics of every successful buying cycle hasn’t.

“You’ve got to prove three things. Prove you understand the business problem the prospect is trying to solve, prove you have solved it for someone like them before and prove that if they give you money they will get a return…if you focus on those three things as a seller you will be in a pretty good place.” – Ed

You can listen to John and Ed’s full podcast episode on the B2B Sales Show site, Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.