The Sound of One Hand Clapping

It’s in the news – the economy is coming back. You’re looking forward to a rise in revenue as you watch your sales organization begin to clap at the prospect of long awaited sales. But don’t expect the revenue to just start pouring in. If you send your sales force out there with the same approach as last year, I’m afraid the results will be like the sound of one hand clapping – nothing!

Dollars are not plentiful, and we may never see the spending frenzy of yesteryear. Your salespeople will now face the challenge of their lives: competition. And it won’t be another company that sells a product or service similar to your own, but a new competitor – everyone! Your sales force must be ready to compete for your customers’ entire budget, mind share and attention. This will require a new set of skills. Skills not in asking the questions, “Do you need any?” or “Do you need more?” but skills in understanding your prospects’ and customers’ organizations – their goals, objectives and challenges.

Relationship building has never been more important. Gone are the days of being the “salesperson” for XYZ Company. Customers have grown tired of the order-taking robot whose appearance generates an under-the-breath, “Ughhhhh.” Customers want, no need, a “Trusted Advisor.” Someone who can see the world through their eyes and feel their pain. Someone who will actually help them get their mission accomplished.

A good “Trusted Advisor” knows his prospects’ business and knows his customer. How does this happen? Relationship Building. By building a close working relationship with your prospects, you can be that Trusted Advisor and be in the best possible position to have them take advantage of your products and services. This just might require a different mindset and skill set when you’re with your customer or prospect. It begins with caring. Caring about what your customers and prospects care about and listening intently to learn. I was asked once, “What technique or trick can I use to make the customer think I really care?” I responded, “There is no trick. You just need to really care.”

So, sales managers, before you dust off your call reporting system to increase the number of sales calls through micro management; before you fill the arms of sales reps with glossy brochures and tell them to “Ask for the order, often;” step back and take a look around. It’s a new world out there. A different time and place. A different culture. The selling skills of the past just won’t work anymore. Before we can win the sale, we have to relearn how to earn the right to present our product or solution. Is the economy bouncing back? Sure it is. But save the applause. Customers have changed. If we want results, there’s work to be done. Sales development now requires a holistic approach. Sure there are new social selling tools but used together without regard to how they might be in conflict can be as dangerous as mixing medications. Look into Integrated Social Selling to achieve the success you seek.

Author: Rich Lucia

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