How 2X Sellers Captivate, Elevate, and Separate

By Tom Stanfill, CEO and Co-Founder, ASLAN Training & Development
A person in a suit and tie holding a lightbulb receiving a bag of money from another person.

Every salesperson in the world wants to get more meetings and win more deals. For either goal, I can already tell you why most people fall short:

  • They lead with their solution
  • The product pitch is about…the product
  • The customer changes, but the talking points stay the same
  • When they speak, no one needs to write anything down
  • It’s a monologue, not a dialogue

Here’s the million-dollar truth: Sales is not about you. 

The people who outperform their peers two to one (2X selling) have cracked the code on what I call “Other-Centered® Selling.” Whether you are trying to get more meetings or win more deals, success can be found in three simple steps.

1. Captivate

If I hold up my phone to you, and it has a picture of my dog, you’ll give it a glance and probably smile. If I hold up my phone to you, and it has a screenshot of you from last weekend, you’ll stare.

It’s a principle I know well: People will always look at a picture of themselves. If you want to captivate someone’s attention, you need to change your position – pointing the focus away from you and toward them.

The gravitational pull to self is a strong one. If you learn to leverage that, Other-Centered Selling will enable you to position all of your products as solutions to a customer’s very real and current needs.

So, your research shouldn’t be about the features and functionality of your product; it should be about the customer.

Here’s a helpful exercise: Try to picture what’s on their whiteboard. What are their top priorities? What are they currently working on? Where are they struggling?

If you have no answers to these questions, your email will be ignored, LinkedIn request denied, and your voicemail deleted. You will never break through the noise, capture their attention, and get a meeting.

Leading with their whiteboard is also the key to immediately drawing them to every crucial point of your presentation and ultimately determining whether their eyes glaze over or they hang onto your every word.

Captivate their attention by making it clear you understand where their head is (“It’s like you read my mind”) and have a remedy for their dilemma.

Where does this knowledge come from? Top sellers simply ask. And by becoming a student of the people they serve, they can – with uncanny accuracy – begin the most important sentences with the magical two words: “Because you.”

  • “Because you are currently looking for…”
  • “Because you have X as a priority this quarter…”
  • “Because you are working on project X…”

Leading with the customer’s whiteboard will guarantee you capture their attention, but the next step will ensure you keep their attention.

2. Elevate

Demonstrating you are focused on the customer separates you from the pack, but now the goal is to build credibility – to elevate yourself from seller to consultant.

The simplest and fastest way to accomplish this: Share a disruptive truth.

Disruptive truths either counter conventional wisdom or offer a disruptive insight. They’re unexpected, and they make it through people’s carefully calibrated mental filters.

Start with what you discovered or know about the customer’s whiteboard, then parlay it into a game-changing fact they don’t already know. This, of course, means a second round of research – requiring a deeper understanding of the customer’s role, industry, and the best practices related to solving their most common problems.

But that work is worth it. Think about it. In my book unReceptive: A Better Way to Sell, Lead, and Influence, I put it this way: “Why would a decision-maker who works a fifty to sixty-hour-per-week job read something from a sales rep? For only one reason – you know something that person doesn’t.”

Consider two of the most popular TED Talks of all time: Brené Brown and Simon Sinek. They both disrupt and change how we think about a familiar topic. Whether what drives relationships, selling, or marketing, they are elevated to thought leader status because they share a different and better way to solve the problems we care about. And we listen.

Develop these truths. Refine them. Make sure they’re interesting, unexpected, even a little radical. Then, drop the disruptive truth to elevate your position.

Here are just a few I’ve seen recently in my inbox:

  • “The quality of your service or product doesn’t determine customer loyalty.” 
  • “Most people are paying too much for insurance. You can actually increase your employee benefits and lower your healthcare cost.”
  • “Most leaders are wasting almost two months a year coaching the wrong people.”

Identifying your “truths” can be difficult, but that’s a good thing. Those willing to put in the extra work are rewarded by being elevated above the pack.

Sometimes all that’s needed to get a meeting, make your point, or win a deal is accomplished in the first two steps, but 2X sellers know they are always at risk if they don’t clearly separate their solution from all the other options.

3. Separate

Markets are flooded with new goods and services. Globalization has not eased this problem, and any kind of business is faced with new competitors – practically on the daily. How does a salesperson stand out at a trade show, get a response to an email sitting in a cluttered inbox, or win a very competitive opportunity?

They understand how to identify a relevant, proprietary benefit.

2X sellers are very aware of – based on all the customer’s options – the unique benefits of their solution. If you struggle to differentiate the features and benefits of the product(s) or service(s), expand your focus to how you deliver your solution or who will deliver and support the solution.

Are all three steps required? Not always, but if you learn to consistently resist the gravitational pull to self and lead with the customer’s whiteboard, share a better way to solve the customer’s problem, and demonstrate why you offer the best solution, I promise you will sell two times more than you are selling now.

Encouraging Receptivity

The sellers thriving now understand that the receptivity of the customer is far more important than the value proposition. They’ve developed a new mindset and skill set to eliminate customer resistance, and it all starts with being other-centered.

Change your approach and you will change people’s minds – and it doesn’t take months to get this right. Start implementing as early as today and watch your selling power grow.

Tom Stanfill is CEO of ASLAN Training, a global sales training company appearing nine consecutive years in Selling Power’s list of Top Sales Training Companies. Since 1996, ASLAN has worked with many Fortune 500 companies, training more than 100,000 sellers and leaders in over 35 countries.

Tom is also a featured columnist for CEO World and the author of UnReceptive: A Better Way to Sell, Lead & Influence, published by HarperCollins.