Solve the Problem of Selling

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When it comes to breaking down sales barriers and achieving serious growth, Ian Altman has done it time and again. He’s consistently recognized as one of the top experts on sales, and for good reason: He started, sold and grew multiple companies, taking their value from zero to more than a billion dollars. To help other business owners, executives and salespeople find the same type of success, Altman shared valuable insights in his book, Same Side Selling, and in his popular podcast of the same name.

As Altman shares: The entire premise behind Same Side Selling is viewing your buyer as a teammate, not an obstacle to overcome. It’s about working together to solve a problem, not simply peddling a product or service. Here, we examine more practical steps of Same Side Selling and how executives can use it to transform sales results and motivate their teams.

The Fundamentals of Same Side Selling

As we shared above, Same Side Selling is built upon the idea of working with your buyer to find a solution to a problem, not viewing the buyer as an adversary or obstacle to overcome. The concept hinges on the idea of building trust, serving as an advisor to the buyer instead of as a salesperson. 

This premise is contrary to the stereotypical view of a salesperson. How many times have you been in a store, as a buyer, and had a salesperson approach you asking if they could help—only to avoid their help completely? Why do we do it? Because we’ve been trained to view the salesperson as someone who can’t be trusted—someone seeking their best interest, not ours. This same theory rings true when you approach your buyers. As Altman puts it, “If we think of the world of sales as having three personas, you have an order taker, a salesperson and a subject-matter expert. We want to make sure we show up as the subject-matter expert who is there to solve, not sell.”

When salespeople can position themselves as a trusted advisor there to help, rather than the stereotypical salesperson just wanting to meet quota, they can overcome the barrier between themselves and the buyer, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship between salesperson and buyer. But first, that trust has to be built.

Gaining Trust Through Same Side Selling

Trust doesn’t just happen; it has to be earned. As Altman shares, one of the best ways to gain trust is understanding the pain points of the buyer. That means taking the time to ask questions and identifying their unique problem—well before ever attempting to offer a solution. If a solution is offered before the buyer feels you understand their needs, most likely that trust will never be earned. 

An important part of the discovery process includes explaining to the buyer what problem your product or service is ideal at solving. Buyers can more easily trust when they understand that you have a track record of delivering what your buyer needs, Altman adds. “If you [as the salesperson] can say, ‘Here are the problems we’re really good at solving for people just like you,’ it gets people to think, ‘Yeah, I am having one of those challenges and now I have something to talk about,’” he shares. “More importantly, now I’m talking about their issues, not what I’m selling. It changes the dialogue so that now, if you end up with a prospect who’s not a good fit, it’s not this fear of rejection from the seller.”

Close Deals with Sales and Marketing Alignment

Even when the salesperson garners the trust of the buyer, the salesperson must still continue to provide the buyer with what they need–when they need it–in order to keep the deal from stalling. According to a recent survey, 72% of all new sales opportunities stall in the middle of the B2B sales pipeline, and, as Altman notes, “It’s usually because the salesperson is more passionate about pursuing the opportunity than the client is.”

This scenario, however, doesn’t have to be the case. Through sales and marketing alignment, salespeople can keep the sale moving down the pipeline. This comes through letting the marketing team into the mix (sales teams are known for shutting out marketing as the sale progresses) and letting them equip sales with information that sells the value of your product or service. When sales and marketing are aligned to the buyer’s needs, salespeople are better equipped to guide the buyer through the late stages of the customer decision journey. Once your buyer understands the hidden costs associated with not solving their problem and/or other problems that could arise if they don’t solve it—the speed of the sale can be boosted significantly and further cement your salesperson as the trustworthy partner who can help guide your prospect and their company to success.



Our podcast, The Centricity Podcast, is dedicated to helping small and mid-market businesses thrive and develop the sales and marketing acumen to move the needle. Tune into our episode with Ian Altman to learn more about SSS and how to implement it.

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