Sales and the City
It's all about relationships!
Here is how a popular TV show looks at it:
In a city filled with more than its fair share of players, predators, losers, and creeps, these people need all the help they can get in order to find the one thing that eludes them all - a real, satisfying and lasting relationship. Is such a thing possible in New York City?
Here's how your customers may be seeing things:
In a vocation filled with more than its fair share of players, predators, losers, and creeps, these customers need all the help they can get in order to find the one thing that eludes them all - a real, satisfying and lasting relationship. Is such a thing possible in Sales City?
Relationship selling, you always hear that, "it's all about the relationship". But relationships, like people come in all shapes and sizes, yet most sales people have a very singular approach. Regardless of whom they may be talking to, or more accurately at, they approach things the same way with everyone. Rolling through the same questions, hoping for the same old answers, and ignoring answers they are not prepared for or don't fit their agenda.
Often it's not just the sales reps' fault, but their managers'. They go back to the office and are greeted by: "Did you ask him?..?"; "Did you find his pain?"; "What'd he say to that?"; "Really, what did he mean by that? What'd ya say then? Ah, he doesn't get it! So, when's he gonna close?"
As a result some sales reps focus on getting the "right answers" for their managers, account plans and CRM fields, rather than focusing on the prospects' answers, and what's right for a long term relationship.
Relationships in life vary from person to person, and to make them work, you have to realize this and constantly adjust. Depending on the people involved, different things will advance and enhance the relationship, while other things will impair them. How many times have you found that after an initial encounter with someone, things really don't progress? The other person just doesn't seem to be in tune with your view, needs or interests. No effort is made to understand how to engage you or stimulate you by focusing on your interests or desires. Soon, you realize that the other person is only able to view, understand and value things from a single perspective: theirs. Nothing else counts or is taken in to the equation. Same with sales, each sale has its own characteristics, pace, rhythm, etc. Each interaction between you, the sales person, and the prospect will be different. Sorry, there is no magic bullet, not everyone fits into a magic quadrant; it's not as easy as "once you know the 'type' you are dealing with, all you have to do is??".
Like your social relationships, each prospect is different. In your personal life, people may have similar characteristics, but they are each different. Each sale is a relationship, in fact with some customers, you'll have a longer relationship than with some in your non-business life, just ask any successful financial advisor. You can't afford to take a cookie cutter approach to prospects/clients. Each requires an understanding of what makes them unique. Yes this will require greater effort than pigeon-holing individuals into a "quadrant".
Take the time getting to know what makes each prospect different, what their unique values are, how to specifically sell to each. Invest a little time and energy in questions that will help you understand the prospect and questions that will help you sell your prospect. Using the answers to shape the interview and work with the prospect. You will find that it is an investment that will continue to pay off in a steady and growing fashion.
After all not all your sales relationships need to be like an episode of Sales and the City! Just ask our clients who are seeing returns from our "Asking Questions, Winning Sales" Program.
Tibor Shanto, is a Principal with Renbor Sales Solutions Inc., with over 20 years of sales experience, from telemarketing to leading a global sales team focused on providing top end solutions. He worked with and helped to improve performance for sales professionals in a wide variety of fields, from financial services to on-line B2B specialists.