Welcome to where the magic happens. Every project, class, system and process I have ever implemented started with a blog post RIGHT HERE. So dig in, there is gold in these electrons.
One of the most glossed over facts in all of sales improvement seminars, webinars and literature is what part the customer plays in the final outcome. The “experts” spend the majority of their time telling us how to improve this skill or that talent. However, they spend an inordinately small amount of time talking about the customer’s role in completing the sale. That ends here.
Let’s think about how a customer becomes aware of our product or service. They may have seen some form of advertisement or heard by way of a third party, but in the end it almost always boils down to FIRST contact with the sales person. Now tradition dictates that we do “X, Y and Z” on an initial call, email, snail mail, social media, etc. yet what is it that the customer wants from the experience?
I state UNEQUIVOCALLY a customer wants to be educated NOT SOLD. They want the sensation of learning without feeling manipulated. Most customers believe they can make the best decision possible… they just lack the right information. When educated, they can share this information either positively or negatively with others in the company and disseminate the info how they see fit.
When we become a resource to the customer we correspondingly INCREASE our worth to them. Becoming somebody they come to trust to provide valuable information. Our calls seem less like drudgery and more like an opportunity. Our emails are potential founts of information and every customer/prospect touch has increased value. This is how we want to start EVERY prospect interaction.
Every customer is unique, each having a distinctive sales cycle and timetable. Yet, sales gurus will teach 100’s of different selling processes and NOT ONE of them is based on how the customer wants to purchase.
Instead what you have are salespeople who blame the prospect for their woes
You name it; it’s ALWAYS the customer’s fault. The lack of introspection on the behalf of sales is alarming but worse are the supposed gurus of sales that pedal this garbage. Sales Co-Creation begins and ends with accepting responsibility and fixing what you break, just like in ANY other relationship in your life.
We need to understand their process. What they are going through. What they need to make the sale happen. There will be speed-bumps if not outright road hazards all the way through, but the only way to finish the race is to KNOW what they need to make the sale happen. From internal politics, to budgets, to how decisions are made, we need to be an EXPERT on their processes not just our way of selling.
When we take the time to learn THEIR processes we get to know them. We learn the best times and methods of staying in touch and keeping top of mind. But the biggest thing we accomplish is being hassle-free . We can become the 1 thing that DOESN’T give them agita because we will know everything that does.
Your goal is not to make a sale each time you contact a customer (it would be nice it’s just not very probable). Your focus is on PROGRESSING the sale.
Not continuing the sale, but PROGRESSING the sale.
If you 1st become a valued resource to your customer and 2nd have learned their buying process to the point you alleviate problems, you will have EARNED the right to move the sale forward at every juncture.
What did you do before making initial contact calls?
If you did, when you call they’ll probably remember you if not be appreciative of your efforts.
What did you do before your first in-person meeting?
If you did, the meeting will be sharp and the customer will appreciate the preparation you did so you aren’t wasting their time.
And on it goes. At every step in the process you have to BRING IT! Go over and above and EARN the right to keep the sale trundling down the path of conversion. It’s not easy, if it was easy everybody would do it that’s why it will work!
Folks, that’s it.
1) Educate and become a RESOURCE to the customer
2) Be Hassle Free by learning THEIR process
3) PROGRESSION: Earn the right to AMF: Always Move Forward
Co-Creation of the sale means you have to think like a customer! What do they want? How do they want it? They are at least 50% of the equation, don’t force some pre-conceived sales process from the latest hot trend. Learn to look at the sale through their eyes, it is a much better view than from your computer.
There is a great scene in Seinfeld where George is talking to a character about being busy and I’ll be dipped if it isn’t what we all would LOVE to say to our customers. You can view the clip here (Busy, Busy, Busy) Pinpoint as usual from George. Customers are always busy. We are always busy.
It is great to be busy. We have all kind of projects going on and meetings to go to. The only problem is when all that “busyness” actually holds you back from taking the next step in REALLY growing your business. Before long you blink and the 1st quarter of the year is gone. You say to yourself “well at least we closed ‘X’ amount of business” The RIGHT question is “how much business COULD you have closed?”
I have seen and been on the front-line of this very phenomenon in multiple industries, the cable (TV) industry in the late 90’s, electronic components in the mid 00’s and construction/building products in the late 00’s to name a few. Here’s the problem, you are so busy with day to day activities, doing the immediate pressing tasks you never find the time for the proactive, big picture, revenue boosting activities that can drive your sales for months and years to come.
You tell yourself you’ll get to it eventually but the sad truth is you NEVER do. You simply move on to the next immediate task all the while thinking to yourself that you feel like a hamster on an exercise wheel. The question is HOW do you break out of the rut and move things forward?
There is NEVER an actual perfect time so do it NOW! FORCE yourself to evaluate what is going on. Decide on what activities are needed, what tactics/strategies should be employed, and then execute.
The effective use of speed is critical and clearly a competitive weapon. Move fast, or become HISTORY as everything you do increases your competitive position or moves you one step closer to being competitive toast.
Confronted with a constantly shifting array of customers, competitors, strategic alliances, technology and market volatility, the only hope for increased productivity lies in developing the ability to move and change at least as rapidly as your competitive environment.
The company or individual that does not embrace the importance of speed will be HAMMERED.
In fact, as a strategic weapon, speed is the equivalent of money, productivity, quality, even innovation.
Pretty simple formula, but as everything the trick is in the execution. You’re busy I get it, but it is time to make a decision. Are you too busy to improve your business or are you willing to look past the immediate and recognize what has to happen to keep your business growing?