Editorializing your sale

On Friday, I wrote about how you should sell more like a reporter.

But that only accounts for the first part of the sale, when you’re working hard to understand your client and their situation.

You’re asking questions, gathering information, and talking to the right people so you can assemble a narrative that connects their present to their future, and how you can help them achieve it.

That’s really two separate things that need to be done:

  1. What is: investigative reporting, whereby you gather information in an effort to understand, clarify, and report back

  2. What could be: editorial, whereby you interpret what you’ve learned into a narrative, including normative recommendations, and express an opinion about it

The best summary of editorial reporting I’ve ever seen is Vox.com’s tagline: “understand the news.” Editorial pages in newspapers are used to express the opinions of the Editorial Board of the newspaper on important issues. You can’t much have a relationship with your readers if you don’t clearly state who you are and what you believe, because your reporting is influenced by your beliefs.

The news is understood differently by different people. Your underlying worldviewunderpins any interpretation – or editorial – you create when you’re selling.

In fact, Editorial is called “Opinion” in many newspapers now, which is a much clearer declaration of its purpose: to comment on and interpret the news, often including a discussion of what the future could or should be, based on opinions and facts gathered.

Here’s a recent example of reporting v. editorial from the NY Times:

  • March 1, 2019: After Cuomo’s Calls to Amazon, a Flurry of Conversations to Rally Support

  • March 3, 2019: Amazon, the Door’s Still Open

The first article is about the complex climate surrounding Amazon’s choice to locate their second headquarters in New York, and later back out of the deal. The second article is an attempt to get Amazon to reconsider their decision, and is from the Editorial Board.

How this applies to your sales process is quite straightforward. Here’s the sales process I recommend, and the roles you need to play along the way:

  • Lead: quick qualification to determine if the lead is worth investigating

  • Discovery: understand your client’s pain, goals, and value (PGV) like an investigative reporter

  • Offer: connect your client’s PGV to your offer, editorializing why your company is especially suited for the work and how you can help your client achieve her goals

  • Negotiation: reaching an agreement based on what both parties want in an effort to get the deal done

  • Contract: getting a signed document that officially begins your relationship

You don’t need to go to journalism school to be decent enough at sales. All you need to do is understand the different roles you need to play at different stages, and you’ll see an immediate difference in your results.