Who Moved My Ironing Board?

How many of you are old enough to remember when you were really excited to have an ironing board in your hotel room? (How many of you even know what an ironing board is?) Today, an ironing board isn’t even considered a perk. Somebody moved the ironing board from a perk to a commodity — and that person was the customer and/or your competitor.

In a world gone global and viral, it’s easy for competitors to catch up and copy your version of the ironing board. That’s why the best sales teams constantly evaluate their services to determine what’s moved from a value-added benefit to the price of admission. These sales teams are good at taking a hard look at reality. And the reality is:

  • You deliver 24/7 service. Check. So do all your competitors.
  • Your team has deep expertise. Check. Your competitors have all the degrees hanging on the wall as well.
  • You’ve been in business for 50 years. Check. Yawn.

In an increasingly commoditized world, how do salespeople set themselves apart? It might be as simple as engaging in more live conversations with customers. This means picking up the phone and actually talking to them. It’s easy to default to instant-gratification selling behaviors, sending quick emails and texts rather than talking to human beings.

I’ve been guilty of this behavior — and I adore my clients. We’re all busy, and having a live conversation takes time. Here’s a reality check: Building real and strong relationships takes time.

A successful and busy VP of sales of mine works with equally busy customers. He sends his fair share of emails and texts. However, he is very intentional about engaging in live conversations with customers. He sends out calendar invites to clients for 15-minute phone calls. In those chats, he always shares something of relevance that will increase the customer’s knowledge about industry trends, or he gives updates on products and services.

Sometimes the conversation is simply to say “hello” and “thank you.” He’s built raving fans by including live conversations with his email and text communication.

Check out the new ironing board. Get intentional about having more conversations with your clients.

Good Selling!


Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is the founder and president of SalesLeadership, Inc. She is a monthly columnist for Business Journals across the country, author of ‘Growing Great Sales Teams’ and co-author of ‘Motivational Selling.’ Her new book, 'Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success,' published by Amacom, a division of the American Management Association, is available in bookstores now. Colleen is the creator of Ei Selling®, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative selling skills. Prior to starting SalesLeadership, Colleen was vice president of sales and marketing for Varsity Spirit Corporation. During her 10 years at Varsity, sales increased from 8M to 90M. Varsity was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 200 fastest growing companies in the United States. When Colleen is not traveling or training, she loves to hike, read and hang with her husband Jim, and friends.

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