Alignment-Based Sales: Alignment Sales in Action

Modified from source image: you’ve spent any time at all in sales, you know how stressful it can be. Going into a selling situation often feels like contest, where the goal is to find the prospect’s pain, and to slowly press on that pain point until they become desperate for it to go away. You want them to become just uncomfortable enough about that pain to spend their money on your solution.

Is it any wonder that prospects often feel like salespeople are trying to trick or manipulate them into parting with their money? If you’re an empathetic person, which the best salespeople often are, it’s a process that really sucks.

The exciting part of an alignment-based sales approach is that it can make selling a lot more fun. Instead of creating a stilted, adversarial dynamic between the salesperson and the prospect, the process becomes much more about finding common ground. I also know it works, as I’ve personally sold millions of dollars of products using this exact sales philosophy.

I’ve talked a lot about the theory of alignment-based sales, but now it’s time to circle in on the specifics. Let’s talk about about how to apply this concept to your current sales process.

Imagine starting your next sales presentation like this:

“Thank you for meeting with us. Before we get started, we just wanted to let you know that we like to do things a little bit differently. We’re not going to do the traditional sales hocus pocus stuff. Instead, what we’re going to do is put together a plan to see if we’re a good fit for one another.”

From there, you present the roadmap for what a successful fit looks like. It shows what your business has to offer, how it could apply to their needs, and how it will work in practice. It explains your side of the deal, and what you need from your customers for the service or product to generate results they are looking for.

At each step along the way, you check that everyone’s needs are still in alignment. This usually means taking a moment to ask the prospect a few questions. “Does this still make sense for you? Is this going to work for your needs? Are we still on the same page?”

If you are not in alignment, the first step is to clarify the issue that is causing the problem. This may be a matter of going into more detail about how your product or service works, or getting more details on their needs. It might mean adjusting your proposal, or helping them create a process to make better use of you solution. Assuming you have a degree of flexibility in creating a deal, most of these roadblocks should be easy to work around.

In some cases, what they need and what your business offers just isn’t a good fit, making true alignment impossible. This is rarely an issue with the alignment-based approach, however. Instead, it’s almost always an indicator of a flaw in the qualification stage of your sales process.

At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re always presenting your value proposition in the best possible light. You want them to instantly see the benefits of your product or service, and to intuitively understand how it will make their lives better. Checking in about alignment is an opportunity for the prospect to convince themselves that this is the right deal for them.

This approach naturally deflects many of the objections and defensive moves that can shut down traditional sales presentations. In a B2B context, where your customers may have been through dozens or hundreds of sales presentations by highly trained salespeople, this can completely change the game. Those buyers and decision makers are prepared for a process where the salesperson is trying to maneuver them into a situation where they can deliver a persuasive, high-pressure closing. That moment never happens in an alignment-based approach.

At the end of the meeting, when you’ve gone through all the major points, all that’s left to ask is “Are we both ready to move forward with this deal?” There’s no big finisher, and no need for an intense closing. If you’re really in alignment, moving forward should be the only logical next step.

It’s easy to see how this approach contrasts with a closing-based technique. A true alignment of interests is simply more persuasive than simply trying to close the deal. Instead of simply making the sale, you’re working towards something more sustainable: A true partnership.