It’s all about objectives, perspectives and belief. If you get compensated one way or another to persuade people to buy things that you’re not 100% committed to, you’re selling. It’s a job. If you think customer-first and are trying to solve their problems in the best way possible whether or not that involves your product or service, that’s solution selling. But, if you believe passionately in your offering, you’re evangelizing to help others benefit from something new.

Ask the five BRAVE questions: Where play? What matters? How win? How connect? What impact?

Where play?

First, figure out what problem you choose to solve. The more focused and clear it is, the better. You’re looking for an unmet need or an untapped opportunity that you care about deeply. This is your why. If the problem or opportunity you choose to focus on doesn’t keep you up at night with fear or excitement, it’s not important enough to you. Play somewhere else.

What matters?

Then think through what things will look like when you’ve solved that problem or tapped that opportunity. This is your what – envisioning people that you’ve helped, after you’ve helped them. How are they different? How do they feel?


How win?

Here’s where the roads diverge. If you’re purely selling, the win is closing the sale. If you’re engaged in solution selling, the win is solving their problem, however you do it. If you’re evangelizing, you’re trying to change their lives in ways they had not imagined.

If the win is closing the sale, bone up on your sales closing techniques. The product or service doesn’t matter. The customer doesn’t really matter. You don’t care if you have to do a little puffery, slight-of-hand or outright deception. Just close the sale.

If the win is solving their problem, you’ll win by establishing a deeper relationship with your customers than do your competitors. That allows you to have a better understanding of the problems they’re facing which, in turn, enables you to piece together a solution that works for them – whether or not it involves your offering.

Evangelizing is different because you know you have a unique offering that can do things no other product or service can do. If people have the problem your offering addresses, the best solution inevitably involves your offering. Invest in the relationship to understand their problem. Invest in understanding your offering and the best way to communicate it. Then help others benefit from it.


How connect?

In every case, relationships matter. Per the Miller Heiman Strategic Selling model, understand the economic buyers (who can say yes,) user buyers (who benefit most from your offering,) technical buyers (who can veto a sale,) and coaches (who can help you make the sale.) Understand whether they are in growth, trouble, even keel or overconfident modes.

That understanding helps you understand the right level of investment of your time in each of these buying influences. Then get to know them so you can sell to them, solve their problems, and/or change their lives.


What impact?

Having done all that, you’re ready to implement the strategic selling steps.

Lay out your sales strategy to get the right people in front of the right buyers with the right message at the right places at the right time over time.

Think through the components of conceptual selling: understand, present, discuss, select/commit.

Outline the proposition with the right positioning, communication and framework for the offer.

Pre-sell the appropriate buyers, testing and consulting in different cases.

Propose the solution – marrying your framework with the customer’s concept.

Close and follow up – get to yes and implement with excellence.

The impact is different for the different types of selling.

If your win is closing the sale, you’re done when you’ve closed the sale. You don’t really care about seeing these people again because there are lots of other fish in the sea.

If your win is solving the prospect’s problem the enduring impact comes in your relationship. They should emerge with a new trusted advisor.

If your win is helping them understand a new offering, what you leave behind is an enduring impact. In most cases this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but the relationship is not the objective. Impact is.

Click here for a list of my Forbes articles (of which this is #775) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

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