The best sales people sell from the “same side of the table” (SSOT)

These days I am enjoying the privilege of working with new young companies. Smart, energetic entrepreneurs are exercising modern selling and marketing tactics that were not available just 10 years ago. Social media and mobile devices alone are major examples of how reaching and educating customers has dramatically evolved. However, new tools and tactics do not eliminate the basic reasons why customers choose us over our competition.

Superior VISABILITY, CREDABILITY, VIABILITY, CAPABILITY and RELIABILITY (The Five Abilities®) are still the things decision makers must see from us to choose in our favor. A clear buying sign that we are addressing these decision-making influences is when we earn the privilege of “Same-Side-Of-Table” (SSOT) discussions with decision makers and influencers. 

SSOT presentations are not a new thing. The term came from when sellers would physically get on the same side of the table as the customer to do interactive presentations. We built tools that showed we understood their business, but with what-if analysis that required customer input. We needed confirmation of their data or information to complete our proposal. Some might think this is risky but it is not. When we have earned the respect and trust that gets us the SSOT opportunity, we are now talking to a customer who sees our win as their win, on both a business and personal level.

At a business level, the SSOT discussion gets us data we would not otherwise get. I have built many ROI presentations for use in these discussions. I’m open about where I know the data is correct and where I’m estimating the customer’s data. Without exception, the customer has always corrected me where I’m wrong. However, rather than trying to disprove the benefits of our offering, we are working together to see how the proposal can work. One might ask, ‘What If the proposal doesn’t work?’ At minimum, we’ve created a higher barrier to entry for competitors because we’re now in the SSOT position. At maximum, we’ve saved ourselves the fate of helping a customer fail.  

At a personal level, the SSOT discussion gets us information about the customer’s personal motivations for making a decision. While personal needs usually support positive business results, there are always personal considerations we must understand to ensure our proposal is on target. Will the decision maker reach a milestone that is in their employment agreement? Will they be responsible for something never accomplished before? Will they get recognition from and for their team? We can do more to help customers when we understand and address personal motivations to build a total offering.

In today’s digital world, the table may be a virtual table, but it’s still there. Webinars, Google® hangouts and Twitter® don’t change our mission. Whether we’re using Facebook®, FaceTime® or face-to-face tactics, the best sales people earn the trust and respect that allows us to do problem solving on the same side of the table with the customer.

 ©2014 Rick Wong – The Five Abilities® LLC



Winning Lifelong Customers with The Five Abilities