When is the last time you thought:
“Am I smart enough?”
“Do I know more than this prospect?”
“Is this customer more knowledgeable than me?”
“My company isn’t big?”
“Will this prospect like me?”
“Will this prospect listen to me?”
“Will this prospect understand?”
The above statements, or excuses, were thought by me at least 100 times in the first 4 years of sales. Of course, I never saw them as excuses. In fact, I blamed everything possible outside of me. I was tired of failing and decided I’d start looking for information related to the above thoughts. I was asking for information related to the wrong questions, and as result, I was training to be focused on:
“How to overcome the objective”
“How to “close down” the client?”
“Probing questions” that lead to the sale?”
“The ABC’s – Always Be Closing”
It was terminology like this that lead me to believe sales were about strong-arming the prospect, and doing the things I was ultimately uncomfortable with. I believed my product was great and would bring the customer tons of value, but only if I could overcome and battle the customer’s point of view. I needed to be right and “win” in order to make the sale. To be honest, I failed over and over again and I lost way more times that I won.
“I was worried about saying the “right” thing instead of hearing the right thing!”
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Dale Carnegie and his book how to make friends and influence others, that I learned it’s not about me; but instead, it’s about my client and focusing any time or energy anywhere else is a waste. In fact, I live now by the expression, “Be Interested, Not Interesting.”
So How? Here are a few suggestions for your use:
1. Prior to your meeting, ask them what they’d like to accomplish by the end of your meeting. You might be amazed at how much they ask you to prepare in advance of the meeting to ensure you bring them the most value.
2. Research/Google their email, find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or any other social site and learn what their goals and objectives are. Do they belong to a non-profit that you can support? Do you know anyone that they can connect with that would bring them value?
3. Do they publish content on blogs or other web pages? If so, subscribe, comment, ask for additional information and show you’re interested in understanding their perspective.
4. Look at their recent activity on LinkedIn to see if they’ve posted any information such as future events, posts they’ve liked, posts they’ve written and find ways to bring them value.
5. Data points you want: who is their customer, what they want to achieve, what they’re doing to achieve that goal, how that progress is measured, and what results they’ve seen so far. It’s critical to understand this as you work on bringing them value beyond what they thought you’d bring.
If you follow the above steps I guarantee you’ll separate yourself from the competition. Almost every new client we talk to shares their appreciation for having a conversation focused on them, and infused with ideas that bring them value. Because we took interest in the client, and all their inner working challenges, we’re given visibility to the “real” problem and the opportunity to make them look great. More to come on that later.
Sales experts, what do you think?