For success in sales learn all you can about your customer
Following a recent consultative selling workshop about developing sales partnerships with clients, I was struck by what one of the sales executives said to me when I ran into him at his offices the following day. “How is it?” he asked “That you seem to know so much about our company. It seems as though you know more about us than many of the people who work here?” Wow - what an eye-opening realization from a young man in the early stages of his professional sales development. I wondered whether he realized that he had identified one of the key elements of a truly ‘consultative’ or in fact a ‘partnership’ sales approach.
Develop partnership sales relationships to help customers achieve their goals
As a sales consultant you eventually cross an imaginary line in the sand beyond which the customer stops seeing you as a sales person for another company, and instead starts to accept you as part of their extended team, working in partnership with them to deliver the results that really matter to them. To get to this hallowed ground you need to park your product pitch at the door, leave it in the car (or at least in your bag) and only refer to it when the customer actually asks you for it. I am certainly not advocating a sales style which would see you arrive at a customer meeting unprepared; in fact quite the opposite. What I am suggesting is that you can spend time planning a killer powerpoint presentation by all means, but plan on NOT using it. Plan on a consultative conversation with the prospect or customer, a conversation focused on them and their needs and challenges and not on your products or solutions. Once they see that you really care about them, about understanding them, and that you’re not simply waiting to deliver a pitch, they will start to tell you what you really need to know to be a true partner to them. When the time is right, when they feel that they can trust you, then THEY will ask you what you have to help. At that point they are interested in your insight and your ideas, not the glossy brochure or impressive slide-deck.
Focus on your customer not your product!
During you time with the customer, be you. Care about your customer as a person. Demonstrate that you want to help them … and they will help you! In the process you will learn enough to be considered a valued member of their team and not an outsider.
Back to our sales executive … I talked with him for a while and explained that I had had to work hard over many months to develop the kind of in depth understanding that he was referring to. There is no substitute for hard work but ‘smart work’ really counts too. Sales people should spend less time worrying about learning every nuance of their product or service and instead invest that time in really trying to understand their customers and prospects. It pays huge dividends. What have been your experiences and what suggestions do you have to develop a consultative, partnership sales relationship?
We inspire others by our sincerity and the way we behave
Being an inspirational leader is not about charisma or power but about sincerity, your belief in what you are doing and in the people you are asking to help you. When people listened to Hitler, a leader with immense power and charisma, they really believed that HE could achieve anything. When people met and heard Churchill they came away believing that THEY could do anything. The difference was that Churchill’s ability to inspire was not dependent on his power or charisma or even his words, but demonstrated by his behavior. “No-one ever left his cabinet, meetings without feeling himself a braver man’' Leo Amery, Cabinet Minister.
Churchill realized that to be effective with others, we need to be honest and realistic about our own abilities, and to know when to offer advice. Churchill showed his sincerity and interest in people and their ideas, he was empathetic and he knew how to listen. It won him people’s attention, respect and most importantly their commitment. Against terrible odds, in desperate circumstances, people were prepared to make unusual sacrifices to endure great suffering, strengthened by a renewed belief in the ability to win. People were inspired.
How can you inspire others to action, to do what needs doing?
“Leadership is about the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it” Dwight Eisenhower.
The ability to inspire others comes from your conviction in success and your confidence that the effort will be worth it. Be the example...lead from the front, be committed to excellence, never expecting more out of others than you would of yourself. To encourage others, ‘walk the talk’, look for ways to be involved and to participate, always portraying calm, confident optimism. Listen and be responsive to other’s suggestions, be willing to share power and delegate. Focus on issues that you can control to create potential positive outcomes to reinforce your belief in success. This behavior will motivate people and help promote agreement about decision criteria.
Inspiring leaders take risks and make decisions; they are accessible, optimistic and confident.
Inspirational leaders are prepared to take risks, they don’t get stuck in planning and research, they make decisions. They are initiators and not position conscious. They are accessible and interact with others. They are giving of their time and their skills, committed to their team’s growth and well-being. They try to create a better work environment, celebrating successes and milestones, however small. Inspiring leaders are confident and optimistic, Churchill’s ongoing mantra “....we shall never surrender” was heart felt, representative of how he felt despite the very gravest of circumstances. Confidence is contagious, being optimistic, yet realistic, draws people to the cause, encourages people to believe that their continued effort will make a difference, optimism inspires………….. how well do you inspire?
'Why, How, What'- inspire others to follow you.
Have you ever thought when explaining what you do, why you get little response? Most of us, most organizations, when asked what we do, explain things in a prescribed order. We explain what we do; how we do it, but rarely articulate why we do what we do. Why is this important? What type of marketing message entices you to want to learn more or even to buy something? Are you engaging and inspiring people to become your customers?
Are you able to express your purpose and belief?
Inspiring leaders and organizations are skilled in being able to clearly express their purpose and belief, why they do what they do. They are intent and passionate, such passion is infectious and compelling. By articulating the ‘why’, people are more likely listen to you, and become part of what you do, whether that be buying from you or following your cause. I would like to share what I learned on an excellent TED video, with Simon Sinek who offers great advice how to do this
Differentiate yourself, know WHY you do what you do.
Inspiring leaders, like Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill and organizations like Apple and Facebook clearly express their purpose and belief, why they do what they do. They are intent and passionate, such passion is infectious and compelling. Apple, under Steve Job’s inspiring and much missed leadership is an excellent contemporary example of a company who differentiated themselves and captured a huge market following by communicating why they do what they do. Most marketing and sales is expressed by what we do, how we're different and then an expectation, a purchase or a vote. If Apple followed this, their marketing message would be: WHAT do we do - we make great computers. HOW do we do it- our products are beautifully designed and simple to use. Want to buy one? Apple actually communicates like this: WHY: Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. HOW: The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. WHAT: We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?
Inspire others to follow you, define your intent and purpose.
There are leaders and there are those who lead. A leader may hold a position of authority but those that lead, inspire. Like Apple, they are the ones that start with the why. People don't buy what you do; people buy why you do it. By articulating your ‘why’, people will be more likely listen to you, and become part of what you do, whether that be buying from you or following your cause.We can all learn how to inspire and be successful by knowing our own 'why'.
Defining our 'why, how, what' has helped us at Integratis to be clearer about our purpose and intent and be more effective in our marketing, designing a better website and developing our social media presence.
The Integratis 'why' - we believe that people do business with people. We believe in people and that people can be helped to develop their skills, to become more successful and more fulfilled.
The Integratis 'how' – a good example of how we do this is by providing our clients with a unique partnership planning process. This enables them to learn the right consultative skills.
The Integratis 'what' - We sell effective training. Want to go on a course?
The message is simple, be clear about your 'why, how, what,' beginning with your purpose, cause and belief, your why. It will inspire others to be your followers and your customers, a market leader, let us know what you think and how you do!
Create a compelling message, why you do what you do.
My last blog discussed the idea that the corner stone of a successful sales and marketing message is being able to define what your business represents. This blog explores this further, why it is important to define not just what you do but why you believe in it, why you are passionate about it. Whether face-to-face, via marketing campaigns or in the ever growing, important, social media world, when your message expresses passion it creates attraction. If you resonate a sincere and clearly defined, compelling message people start to listen to you, and if you have something to offer which they need, they are more likely to buy from you.
Is there passion in your promise - does it create attraction
Are you passionate about what you do? Is your sales message clearly defined and why is that important? Wikipedia defines passion "as an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire…...” Passion is indeed intense and contagious. From experience, when I talk excitedly about what I do, showing a sincere conviction in why I do it, my enthusiasm entices people to engage, a dialogue begins and a relationship starts to develop.
Business is connecting with people, to engage others know what differentiates you.
Central to this for me, is that although we might be business people, first and foremost we are people. Regardless of the size of the corporation you work for, business is about connecting with people. So if via your communications you are perceived as a sincere, enthusiastic, reliable and competent person, aren’t people more likely to want to work with YOU?
If our Integratis marketing message just said: ‘we are a sales training company’, the chances to engage are slight, there are many other sales training companies.
By expressing enthusiasm and passion in what we do, explaining what differentiates and defines us we attract attention: "Integratis believes that people do business with people.That people can be helped to develop their skills to become more successful."
Curiosity is aroused, people want to know more, ‘how do we do this?’ A conversation starts, where we can try to find out what the listener’s needs might be and show how we could help them.
I would say something like this: “we can teach your sales people how to build partnerships with their customers, how to develop a consultative, customer centric approach. Our process focuses not on selling, but on the customer’s goals and concerns. We show how to build ongoing customer relationships, how to become perceive as a preferred solution provider, a trusted partner, the person the customer thinks of first when they need help.”
How would you articulate how you might be able to help someone? Our business is trying to teach people to think of the other person, to be supportive, to build relationships built on trust and in so doing help others to build success. Yes, like any other commercial venture we want to be profitable, to make money. Our success in doing do is because we have a clearly defined passion and belief in what we do, we believe in people and have well proven tools to help develop people to be better than the best. What do you believe in? Why do you do what you do? I would love to learn your thoughts.