How can understanding customer's needs lead to sales success?
Unveiling the Iceberg: A Deep Dive into Customer-Centric Sales
Hello everyone, I’m your host, and today I’m excited to share with you the insights from a recent expert insight episode where I had the pleasure of interviewing Karl Becker, the founder of Improving Sales Performance and author of several insightful books on sales and marketing alignment. Our conversation revolved around his new book, “Iceberg Selling,” and the importance of understanding customers on a deeper level.
The Iceberg Selling Concept
Karl Becker introduced us to the concept of “Iceberg Selling,” a sales approach that goes beyond the surface-level understanding of customers. He emphasized that to be successful in sales, we must delve deeper into the customer’s world, understanding their needs and connecting with them on a more profound level. This approach, Karl believes, can set us apart from our competitors and lead to better results.
Karl and I found common ground in the belief that people crave to be seen, heard, and understood. This simple yet powerful concept forms the foundation of effective sales. Drawing from his extensive experience as a consultant, Karl noticed that salespeople often focus solely on closing deals without truly understanding the customer. He stressed the importance of investing time in understanding the customer’s unique situation and building a connection with them.
Strengths Over Weaknesses
Our conversation then shifted to the idea of focusing on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. Karl highlighted the importance of recognizing and leveraging each individual’s strengths. He shared a conversation he had with a peer group of marketing agency owners, discussing the role of account managers and their level of ownership in client success. Karl suggested changing the title from account manager to account leader to emphasize the need for them to take ownership and lead their accounts to success. This idea resonated with the group, as it shifted their perspective on the role and highlighted the importance of driving outcomes and creating value for clients.
I found myself agreeing with Karl’s point about the distinction between management and leadership. I emphasized the psychological and executional differences between the two and the importance of understanding what leadership means in the context of sales. The concept of an account leader signifies taking responsibility for the transfer of value and the success of the client.
Building Authentic Relationships
Karl added that account managers in sales and marketing often have a natural inclination towards building relationships and understanding people. He suggested that they should apply this mindset to understanding their clients’ success and needs. By aligning with clients and bringing value, account managers can create successful outcomes. He encourages account managers to immerse themselves in their clients’ world, building strong relationships and rapport.
Karl also emphasized the importance of authenticity and being true to oneself in sales. He believes that when salespeople show their genuine selves, amazing things happen, and clients are more likely to open up and reveal their needs and challenges. This leads to co-creating solutions and a deeper understanding between the salesperson and the client.
I agreed with Karl’s point and added that in today’s world, people’s defenses are often up when they encounter salespeople. Therefore, being authentic from the beginning is one of the fastest ways to break down that initial distrust. Karl further explained that salespeople sometimes carry baggage or “head trash” that affects their approach to sales. He shared a story about a founder who had hang-ups about sales due to negative experiences and perceptions. Through coaching, the founder realized that sales is about genuinely showing up, caring, and offering solutions to help others.
The Pride in Sales
Both Karl and I expressed our passion for sales and the pivotal role it plays in society. We believe that salespeople should be proud of their profession and the value they bring to their clients. After all, sales is not just about closing deals; it’s about understanding, connecting, and creating value for others.
John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.