The global pandemic has created new challenges for buyers and sellers. Virtual selling has become the new norm, buyers are more reluctant to make purchases, customer needs are ever-changing and discussions among stakeholders are increasingly fractious.

The trend of increasing complexity and uncertainty is a challenge for many sales professionals, because they have developed domain-specific skills — skills that are relevant to a fixed range of selling scenarios. This narrow focus is a problem, because no two sales conversations are alike. As a result, sales professionals need to develop a new kind of agility that empowers them to welcome change rather than simply manage it.

The concept behind this approach is what statistician and author Nassim Taleb calls “antifragility.” Something that is antifragile not only prevails during change, but it also benefits from it.

Becoming Antifragile

To become antifragile, professionals need adaptive skills that they can adjust and alter across a range of selling conversations. They can develop these skills by cultivating a greater awareness of the ways their world and the world of their customer have changed.

This new selling methodology is characterized by proactive collaboration and a consultative approach. It is not merely a set of actions — it is also a mindset in which the sales professional has a genuine and authentic curiosity about customers and their needs.

When this curiosity is real, sales professionals are not discouraged by change or the unexpected. Instead, upheaval only encourages them to explore further. They are not anchored to preconceived notions or assumptions; rather, their curiosity propels them forward.

11 Ways to Leverage Change to Thrive in Selling

Sales professionals who embrace the concepts of agility, curiosity and antifragility demonstrate the following behaviors:

    1. Engage buyers as a mutual business partners, bringing clarity to business issues and insight into the best ways to address those issues.
    2. Commit to a deeper discovery of customer needs by understanding the stakeholder’s new set of priorities as they are in flux.
    3. Co-create a buying vision with the customer by accurately diagnosing challenges and identifying the aspects of the solution that most directly connect to their definition of value.
    4. Gain access to a broader range of stakeholders, track a larger set of priorities that rise and fall, and then drive consensus.
    5. Discuss risks in an open and transparent manner, helping the customer develop comfort with the idea of moving forward with a solution.
    6. Proactively guide the customer through the buying process by collaborating on an evaluation plan, co-creating the business case, providing proof of value and driving consensus.
    7. Become part of revenue teams — from pre-sales subject matter experts (SMEs) to service and support teams — in which all members drive customer retention, value realization and revenue goals.
    8. Incorporate numerous capabilities into different conversations occurring throughout the buyer’s journey.
    9. Demonstrate a firm grasp of behavioral science concepts, enabling them to appeal to both logic and emotion.
    10. Leverage behavioral science to foster trust, increase buyer ownership and shape perception of needs.
    11. Demonstrate an understanding of the customer’s complete digital journey leading up to the virtual engagement and provide a consistent customer experience.

Authenticity, curiosity and collaboration will surface meaningful conversations that yield value in the form of not only a solution but also a more impactful customer experience.