Regarding Your Sales Success…
There is an evolving trend that has developed over time, and continues to occur, that is causing salespeople and sales organizations much consternation. One one hand, the customer’s natural skepticism toward vendors is increasing at an exponential pace, as represented by the upward curve in the graphic below. Meanwhile, access to key decision makers in important target accounts continues to wain as customers are no longer willing to entertain every vendor salesperson who happens to come calling.
The net result of these two phenomenons is a “Logic Gap’ has been created between older-school sales approaches and what makes sense in today’s selling environment. For example, for years sellers and marketing teams have been trying to craft next generation messages that they can distribute to the field in the hopes giving them a competitive advantage. These introductory messages are typically referred to as the ‘elevator pitch.
While it’s all well and good that you want to say something impactful when first interacting with potential clients, if you sell in a competitive marketplace, there’s nothing you can say in the first 90 seconds, at the buzzword level, that will differentiate from all the other rivals who also claim to be the leader, with an unmatched commitment to quality and service, and a full range of products and service that enable customers to blah, blah, blah… It turns out that the traditional elevator pitch is the quickest way to commoditize your company’s value, and turn the customer’s focus to whoever provides the lowest price.
I also make it a point to ask audiences, would you rather be perceived by prospects as being customer-focused or self-serving? In our ‘live’ QBS training classes, everyone is quick to say they would rather be customer-focused. But, have you ever noticed that starting with an introductory blurb about yourself or your company puts the focus totally on you, as opposed to what’s most important to the customer-their goals, objectives, problems, issues, wants, needs, and desires? Oops.
Another example is the dreaded concept that has been passed down for decades: If you want to open a dialogue with customers, then start with open-ended questions. Three of the main staples of this philosophy include questions like: “Mr. Customer, what are your goals and objectives for the next 3 years?”
Another favorite is, “Ms. Customer, what’s the biggest issue you currently face?” Or, the famous: “Mr. Customer, what keeps you up at night?”
The litmus test is simple: Would these questions work on you if a salesperson were to call you at home tonight during dinner and you hear the following: “Hi, Mr. Jones, my name is Joe Smith and I work with Equitable Real Estate Life Insurance Mortgage Company. What are your financial goals and objectives of the next 3 years?”
Seriously, would you tell them. When I turn these open-ended questions around on students in my class, virtually each and every person I pose this scenario to says, “No, I would not share that information with a cold caller.”
It turns out that open-ended questions can be valuable conversational tools, but only once you’ve earned the right to ask them. Thus, all of the programs out there teaching sellers to open with open-ended questions are fine, but you have to recognize that a strategy that doesn’t work on you when you are on the receiving end of the question may not work with your customers either. Oops again!
It goes on and on. The selling environment has changed dramatically in the last 2, 5 and 10 years, not to mention how different things are today than what might have been relevant or viable 30+ years ago. Moreover, has anyone put any thought into what the sales landscape will look like moving forward? Don’t get me started!!! This is just the tip of the iceberg of my vision for this new book. Hang in there and stay tuned. Help is on the way.
A little over three weeks ago, the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head gelled in such a way that it was clear that I need to document the latest concepts that I have been teaching in ‘live’ QBS Methodology programs, but have not yet been documented in print. Thus, the night I announced to my family that I was going to write a sixth book, I ended up waking up at 3:00am, when I went down to my study because I could sleep, and in just two hours, I banged out the entire outline for the book, including chapter titles and content.
I’m not yet announcing the title because I don’t want to afford anyone the idea of using it for a LInked-In post, and then be accused of plagiarism. I can tell you that the overridingtheme of this new work is basically this: Why would you choose to ride in a horse and buggy to work, when you can take an automobile that saves time, doesn’t require feeding or constant maintenance, and is exponentially more efficient in today’s world?
Well, the same question needs to be asked of sales training. When I crack open the books on my shelf from sales trainings I’ve attended all the back to the early 1980’s, I notice that the copyright dates range from the late ’70’s to the mid-1980’s. And much of the training that is still being delivered today is based on premises that may have been relevant 30+ years ago, but no longer apply in today’s selling environment.
Thus far, I’m on pace of drafting one chapter per week, which mean after editing and the arduous publishing process, the book should be ready out near the end of 2015…though the concepts are being taught as we speak. I believe this will become my best and most impactful work, and I’m am excited to be cranking it out to get it in your hands as quickly as possible.