Vertical IQ’s latest eBook, entitled “Unlock Sales Readiness: Advice from the Experts,” is available now! Along with it comes valuable insights from Sales Readiness experts, and in this blog series, we will bring you some of the highlights from our conversations with each of them.


“Sales Readiness” encompasses a variety of concepts – and it has a different meaning depending on which sales professional you talk to – but at the end of the day, it all traces back to having the preparedness to create and grow lasting relationships with customers.

Our new eBook, Unlock Sales Readiness: Advice from the Experts, dives into what it means to be “sales ready” and provides valuable coaching insights from some of the top thought leaders in the sales world. For this edition of our “Advice from the Experts” Blog Series, we caught up with Brynne Tillman, CEO of Social Sales Link and author of The LinkedIn Sales Playbook, A Tactical Guide to Social Selling.

Brynne started her sales career more than 30 years ago. She began her work with Social Sales Link nine years ago, guiding sales professionals in their branding, outreach, and networking to help them win more business and develop better sales relationships.

She also co-hosts a podcast titled Making Sales Social, which you can check out by clicking here!

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. How did you get started in sales, and what industries have you worked in?

Brynne: I’ve been in sales since I was 14, when I had my first waitressing job. I recognized that if I could sell appetizers and desserts – I’d have larger tips! But my first “real” sales job was for Dun & Bradstreet over 30 years ago. I fell in love with sales there because we were really making a difference for companies that were selling to large vendors, and they were vetting them out. I had one client who was an emerging business who received a large purchase order from one of the largest department stores in the nation. What she didn’t know is that their payment history in her industry was, on average 120 days. By selling her a payment analysis report, she was able to get a bridge loan which saved her business.  This is the difference I seek to achieve when working with my clients, whether they’re banking, financial services, insurance, or service-based vendors.

Sales, for me, is identifying and solving a problem or challenge my prospect has. The philosophy is simply detaching from what the prospect is worth to me and attaching to what I am worth to the prospect.  When my only goal is being a resource by understanding their priorities and goals, offering insights and exploring if my solution is right for them, or if it isn’t, who I can introduce them to that can, I build strong rapport, trust and credibility for the long term.

Q: When I say the phrase “Sales Readiness,” what does that mean to you?

Brynne: I think there are three levels of Sales Readiness. First: Do I understand the value that my product or service delivers to my customers? Do I know my solution inside and out – as well as the impact that it has on the person that purchases it – both professionally and personally? That impact matters.

You want to know your product, be able to articulate it, and be ready to ask the right questions – to understand not just what your product does but what it solves for the customer. That involves some innate empathy, and it’s about detaching from what the client is worth to us and attaching to what we are worth to the client.

The second level is understanding the industry you’re selling into. Who am I selling to? Who else is selling to them? What are their priorities as an industry? Move beyond your solution, and look into the industry to understand the trends that are “hot.” How is the economy affecting them? Are employees hard to find? You have to understand what is going on in the industry you serve.

A good salesperson is hungry: they cannot rely on their company to know their clients’ industries; they need to rely on themselves individually to go one level deeper. If you learn a customer’s industry, and their clients’ industries, you can have a conversation that’s relevant to them and become a trusted advisor.

Finally, the third level of Sales Readiness is going deep and wide into each individual prospect. Understand what matters to them as a company, what matters to them personally, and what initiatives they have as a company versus their industry. Get to know what their life looks like. If they don’t currently have a solution, how does that personally impact them? How does this affect them emotionally? It’s not just about the surface level – you’ve got to go deeper and gauge how your solution makes them feel, to see what it can do for their quality of life.

It’s amazing: We often stick to the surface level, but you’re in it to help customers solve their challenges and achieve their dreams. You have to think of yourself as a partner in this journey.

Q: When someone is focused on getting “sales ready,” oftentimes they’re thinking about the outcome and what it looks like to “win” going into a conversation with a prospect. What are your thoughts on the concept of “winning” a sale?

Brynne: Larry Levine says customers can “smell commission breath.” If you put a dollar amount on someone’s head, you completely lose track of what they need or want. You can’t think of it as “What do I want to sell to them?”; rather, you should see it as “How can I help them solve this problem?”

To become a good, lead-driven salesperson, it’s absolutely vital that you are relationship-driven first and that your authenticity shows up in service – and that you don’t show up just to “win” a sale. You have to detach from the “commission” and ask your prospects what they want to achieve, not just tell them what they want. You can’t just “win”; you have to earn it by being informed and authentic.

>> Check out Larry’s insights on Sales Readiness here!

Q: I want to talk specifically about language and “company lingo.” How important is it for sales professionals to tailor how they speak to each prospect and customer?

Brynne: You can start by reading their website, looking at press releases, seeing how they name their products, and pulling lingo directly from their marketing language. One of my clients has a ship and compass on the front page of their website. So, in our meetings, I make a point to talk about “direction,” because I know it’s a word that is going to resonate with them. I also like to look at their job descriptions: It’s a great place to learn their local lingo, find the words that signify their company culture, and even find their “dialect.” Local companies often have their own dialect, and it’s important to learn it.

In terms of Sales Readiness, it’s also important to take a look at what’s going on with their company. Google them. How have they been? Have they won an award? Did someone in the company get recognized? In general, what’s happening? All of that content is absolutely vital to connecting with them and letting them know you took the 20 or so minutes to learn about them.

Q: Do you think there’s been a shift in the financial services or banking services landscape that salespeople need to recognize in order to make connections with their customers?

Brynne: Yes. We live in this weird transactional world where we can order on Amazon every single day. But if you have an issue, we also live in a world where it’s a complete nightmare when it comes to customer service trying to figure out those issues. So there’s this strange dichotomy where we want instant gratification, but we get very frustrated with the lack of service.

If you’re buying laundry tablets on Amazon, and there is an issue, it’s frustrating – but you can deal with that. But if we’re dealing with the financial stability of a company or a family, there are bigger consequences. Without the deeper discussion, it’s a disservice to the customer, and they are going to be frustrated down the line when things aren’t working, or when someone points out that you never actually had the right conversation. You have to understand what they want to accomplish first and foremost, and you have to understand how their legacy can be affected.

It’s really about making sure that at every step, we understand the consequences of our actions and inactions, good and bad. Salespeople need to ensure that their customers have that trusted advisor – that partner who really cares about the whole outcome, not just the sale.

>> You can read more of Brynne’s insights in our new eBook by clicking here. Stay tuned to our blog for future installments of our “Advice from the Experts” Blog Series

Image credit: Vertical IQ

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