Posted by: drewdice | September 3, 2010

Not out of office

Have you ever seen these two very interesting phenomena?

– When some sales people have successfully “closed deals”, these sales people attribute the success to one of two things
– The sales people themselves have successfully outmaneuvered, outthought, or outnegotiated the prospect
– The sales person attributes the successful sale to something totally out of her control – i.e. the economy turned and
customers are ready to buy again
– When these same sales people are not successfully “closing deals”, they also seem to have a difficult time getting in front of propsects or even getting in touch with the prospects (or customers….can you imagine….existing customers not taking your calls!). Often times, this shows up as
– Everyone must be on vacation
– This is a really busy time of year
– The prospect must have an issue with us/we did something wrong

The reality of any of the above situations is that the sales people described above have not created trust and value based relationships with their prospects (and customers).

News flash: Your prospective customers have challenges every day. They seek counsel, need help and would love nothing more than to have trusted relationships where they can turn for advice, information, referrals, or just an empathetic ear. All of this is within grasp for sales people.

The question is: do you have the right mindset, context, and approach to create these winning mutually fruitful relationships?

Here are a few key ingredients to include in your recipe:

– Establishing trust: This includes being sincere and credible, as well as developing business intimacy (The Trusted Advisor is a great book that delves deeply into this area)

– Do your homework: Understand some of the challenges your prospect’s industry and company faces in today’s marketplace.

– Be relevant: Showing up to a call or meeting to spew everything about you, your firm and how wonderful you are adds zero value to your prospect, and will probably disturb them enough to not speak with you again. Have a goal (or goals) for the discussion, frame an agenda for your time, collaborate to make sure the time is valuable for all parties included, and for goodness sake, ask good questions that have good business context (this, in and of itself, is an art, not a science)

– Follow up: You might be surprised to hear this, but senior executives are actually upset when they give time to a sales person and that sales person does not follow up after the initial discussion. You read it right: they WANT and EXPECT follow up. After all, if they gave you some of their precious time to begin with, you better bet they had an interest. The question is: were you effective in uncovering needs, starting the trust-building part of the relationship, creating some value and credibility, and setting next steps?

So, before you (or your team members) whine that prospects won’t take calls, or that nobody wants to buy, or worse yet, that there is no understanding of why customers are actually buying, think about the above points. Good or bad, you are getting exactly what you deserve.

Please feel free to share some of your sales success (and horror stories). We’d love to benefit from your experience.

Cheers,

Andrew

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