It’s happened again! Another salesperson called, a call I expected as he was referred by another business associate of mine. After he introduced himself he asked me what our company did!!! I asked if he looked at our website and he said no. Here he is, a “sales professional,” 30 years in position who doesn’t even look at a company web site before picking up the phone! I agreed to meet anyway and he shows up in my home office in a $300+ suite and tie (I am in T-shirt and jeans). It feels like “Back to the Future”.
When is the sales world going to get up to date?
Here is our take on today’s sales climate we call “The 7 Critical Elements of Successful Sales and Marketing”:
The company head is the Chief Marketing Officer
CEO’s of small and mid-sized companies should think long and hard before abdicating this responsibility to a sales director. This is not to say that much of the work can be delegated, but the top leader must stay in the driver seat by keeping informed and in control of this most critical company component. Is your director of sales really telling you the truth when his/her job is on the line?
The company must be driven by meaningful purpose and principles
It is one thing for those at the top of the company to understand the passion and principles driving them to get out of bed in the morning. It is more important however that every member of the staff embrace the same hunger. That said, if the main purpose of the company is to chase dollars and profits, stop reading here, to read on will only waste our breath and your time. Is your sales staff helping to build the company or chasing the dollars for themselves?
Focus on the message
We have to sell the problems we solve, not what we do. The message is the most important component in the sales process. Today’s business climate is averse to sales techniques. Sharing the message is the best we can do. “This is our service and how we benefit your company. This is what it cost. Do you want it or not?” Of course there is more to it than that. Consider the 5 C’s of the message components–
Clear – The message has to be very easy to understand. If you say it to a 5th grader will they get it? If so you are on the right track.
Concise – The message must be short – you only have 2-3 sentences to get the listener’s attention.
Consistent – Are all sales/marketing materials in alignment? Be sure that whatever media the prospective customer looks at says exactly the same thing (even if in different words or graphics). If the boss is forcing you to use outdated literature due to “sunk cost” considerations, sucks be to you! Explain the errors of his/her ways!
Credible – Is it the truth? Can the listener believe it?
Compelling – Does the message motivate the listener to learn more?
Focus on the message and keep working on it. This is the core of the sales process.
TEAM culture wins
Back to the Future companies utilize a “sales culture” that destroys the team by forcing competition among the members creating a “dog-eat-dog” environment and attracts sales people who are only interested in themselves. If you want that kind of person representing your company, good luck with that. I’ll take a company person over a “rainmaker” any day (oops, we just lost a few more readers). The team culture works (1) in harmony toward success for every member of the team (2) working together to ensure stellar service for the clients and finally (3) they work together for the best interest for the company. Sounds like three wins to me!
Okay, we lost a few readers at element #2 and 4, and we will lose a few more at this next juncture so here goes—
Having the right people doing the selling
Is the sales person the right one to represent your company? How about the person that actually delivers the service instead? Remember, it is no longer about sales techniques; it is about sharing the right message in the right way.
Let me digress here with a real story. I was visiting a chamber business showcase a few years ago and found myself admiring a display of large interactive monitor screens across the aisle from where I stood. I was envisioning how nice that would fit on the wall in my home office. One of the fellows in the booth spotted me and invited me over for a closer look. He demonstrated the screen with enthusiasm showing how it interacted perfectly with his tablet. I was impressed and excited. I asked what the approximate cost was and he said that was not his area and handed me a business card of someone else to call. I asked if the card was a sales person. He said yes, selling was not his role. I laughed and told him he was the one that had me almost sold and asked why I should speak to a salesperson? He explained that was the way the company operated. I never purchased the screen.
Personally, I have neither a desire to meet with a salesperson, nor a desire to have a salesperson representing our company. Perhaps I will see things differently down the road yet during these past 18 years we have done well without the money-motivated.
Still reading? Okay good,
Partnering with clients and suppliers
Here’s the question: Do your clients consider you a vendor or a partner?
If you are strictly a vendor and happy there, this probably does not apply. However if you want to make a positive difference for your clients you are already taking this seriously. We walk away from clients that prefer the “shut up, just do your job” company. If we can’t make a difference to improve their lot, we are not interested. Even the successful behemoths know how to partner (are you one of the many thousand lucky ones receiving “personalized” coupons from Kroger?).
Now, here is another question: Do you insist on the same from your suppliers?
We changed IT service suppliers a few years back because the former were merely sending out “tech zombies” once each month to download updates on the servers. They only offered advice when they were trying to sell us something. Our current IT partner meets with us every month and has offered meaningful advice advancing our technology. Since in our company, “technology is the tail wagging the company dog” and not being technical myself, we need a partner, not a vendor. Get a clue folks!
This one is more common sense than innovative but needs constant attention. I have to admit that we are in revision mode. In the old days, our “Lead Generation” services were more fast-paced than our current routine and we had the sales tracking efforts down to a science. Today we are in a new arena of technology offerings and need an updated dashboard. We are working on it, launching 3 new services at once brings on its own set of challenges.
Well, there it is. Still reading? There is hope for the world!
READ MORE: If you like this article, you will want to read: “The Battle of Disruption”
Jim Mullaney is President and CEO of Edoc Service, Inc. a “Fast 55” virtual company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.