39: Ian Altman: Selling from the Same Side

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This episode of The Manage Your Message Podcast features an interview with Ian Altman, a former 20+-year CEO, speaker, and author of the book Same Side Selling: A Radical Approach to Break Down Sales Barriers.   

Ian discussed in detail how the common view of sales as a game—with a winner and loser—can lead sellers into “adversarial traps.”

The book Same Side Selling (now in an updated edition) was conceived and written as a true collaboration between Sales and Procurement. Ian’s co-author Jack Quarles had a long career in procurement and expense management. Ian talked about how the book has proven popular with procurement teams as well as sales teams.

How can sales pros best be an “educator” in the process? Through research with more than 10,000 CEOs and executives, Ian and Jack uncovered the top questions that those leaders (on the buying side) ask internally, whenever they evaluate a request for funding. Across industries and companies of different sizes, the pattern was consistent. Executives ask:

  • What problem does this solve?
  • Why do I need it?
  • What are the likely results?

That means sellers need to be addressing these types of questions.

Among other topics, Jim and Ian also talked about what does (and does not) make for a great sales meeting or conversation. In order to keep the correct focus, Ian coaches sales pros to structure their conversations around:

  • Issue: What inspired them to speak with you?
  • Impact and Importance: What happens if they don’t solve that issue? Is this really a big problem or merely an irritant?
  • Results: Can we gain a mutual understanding of the results to achieve?

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