Anthony Iannarino is a writer, author, speaker, and a sales and leadership trainer. His primary work is in human effectiveness and transformation. Anthony publishes a blog post daily at www.thesalesblog.com, a practice he has kept for twelve years.
He is the author of three bestselling books that are documenting a modern sales approach. His first book is The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, a book that provides salespeople with a blueprint for success. His second book, The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments that Drive Sales is a guide to effective client communications that allows salespeople to close deals faster. His third book, Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition is the first book on displacing your competitors and winning new business. All three books are bestsellers and have been translated into 20 languages.
As a world-leading B2B sales expert, you’re one of the best right now. Why did you choose this niche and how did you become so good at it?
When I was very young, I worked in my family business. My role was in operations, but I was told that when I had nothing to do, I was to call companies and see if I could help them. I didn't believe I was selling. I thought I was helping people.
A few years later, I was in Los Angeles playing music at night. My manager in my day job recognized I was winning more clients than all three of his salespeople and forced me into outside sales. After a brain surgery, I was not allowed to drive. I moved back to Ohio and took over sales for my family business. The niche chose me. I studied sales, management, and leadership to improve my ability to grow that business.
The fact that I worked in a commoditized business helped a lot. You have to get really good at differentiating yourself and create value for clients when everyone has what is essentially the same offer.
One of the things you talk a lot about is ”Separation & Competition”. Why is this so important and what are your best tips on how to separate yourself from your competitors?
When we talk about sales, we don't tend to think about the fact that it is a competition to create greater value for the client. We think it's about our company and our products or services or solutions. You are trying to create a preference to buy from you and your company.
The way you separate yourself from your competition is by helping your prospective client make the best decision for their business. This means helping them understand why they should change, what factors they should consider, how to weigh certain factors, and how best to improve their results.
When you create greater value than your competition, you separate yourself from the pack and create a preference to buy from you. It's important because it's how you win.
What are some common mistakes people do nowadays when they are trying to pitch something?
They focus on the drill instead of the hole. This idea was put forth by Theodore Levitt, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School. He said that people don't want to buy a drill, they want a quarter-inch hole. If they could have the hole without the drill, they wouldn't buy it.
A huge mistake is focusing on your product or service instead of the result it produces for the client. In a modern sales approach, we focus on the outcomes, not the solution.
Salespeople also don't understand that the sales conversation is the only vehicle they have to create value for their client