You win with the small things

Don’t dismiss any potential competitive advantage as insignificant.

I read a post last week that asserted “being likable doesn’t close deals.”

Which is sort of true.

In an absolute sense, likability, by itself, won’t win deals for you.

I mean, yes, it’s possible it could. But it’s not very probable.

But it is also quite wrong.

Because, when everything else is equal in the mind of the buyer, being likable might just be the difference between winning and losing.

So, how often is everything else equal?

A lot. All the time.

Consider these stats from a post from Santosh Sharan, the COO of Retention, using data from G2. It shows the number of companies in each of these categories:

  • Conversational Intelligence : 156 companies
  • Email Marketing Software : 561 companies
  • Marketing Automation : 390 companies
  • Sales Intelligence : 246 companies
  • Auto Dialer : 147 companies
  • CRM : 290 companies

Look, if there are over a 100+ vendors selling virtually the same product with similar capabilities at roughly the same price, do you think there is any reasonable chance your buyers could tell one product from the other in a blind test?

Or course not. Don’t be ridiculous.

The point is that in highly competitive sales situations you can’t dismiss any potential advantage as being insignificant or unimportant. Like being likable.

Because at the end of the day being likable might give you the fraction of a percentage boost that wins the deal for you.

Sir Dave Brailsford, of the INEOS professional cycling team in the Tour de France, is famous for his gospel of “marginal gains.”

He examines every possible aspect of his riders’ equipment and performance no matter how small and seemingly insignificant. If it can be improved to help his team’s performance, and its probability of winning a race, by even a fraction of a percentage point, then he works to make it better.

In selling, these “marginal gains” that spell the difference between winning and losing are almost all about what you, the human seller, bring to the experience.

It’s when who you are is more important than what you know.

Consider this: Cian McLoughlin and his team at Trinity Perspectives have conducted thousands of win/loss interviews with enterprise decision makers.

He summarized their findings from these interviews into the 9 Reasons You Win Deals and the 9 Reasons You Lose Deals.

Only one of the 18 combined reasons had to do with product or price (And that one was ‘Seen as too risky, too cheap.’)

The primary reasons cited by decision makers for why sellers won, or lost, deals were human issues.

And, what was one of the 9 most frequently cited reasons decision-makers gave for sellers losing deals?

The sellers “Failed to make an emotional connection” with the decision makers and stakeholders.

You know. Like being likable.

Winning sellers still have to offer a competitive product at a competitive price.

But when all else is equal, and as the data above showed, it often is, the slim margin of victory (or defeat) will often come from those things that too many ‘experts’ dismiss as insignificant.

Like being likable.