Apparently experienced sales professionals, new sales people and everyone in between is over-relying on technology to get ahead. There’s nothing wrong with this, except when technology attempts to replace good old fashioned relationship skills.
Now not all salespeople are guilty, but its becoming more of an epidemic that most are relying more on the technology in their hands to sell than basic communication skills. So where do you stand?
We as society have become so reliant on smart phones, iPads, and computers that we have lost the art of engagement. Guess what, it’s costing companies huge sales dollars and relationships. There is an exception. There are a handful of real professionals who understand and use technology for its intended purpose. When it comes to closing the deal its all about the relationship.
Real salespeople understand that deals and relationships are won and lost in the communication. They know if they do their homework up front, they can walk into a meeting armed with nothing more than brilliant questions, a pen and a pad of paper. With these simple tools they aren’t just winning deals, they are destroying the competition. Its not even close.
As a sales trainer and sales person, I can tell you that I use technology to do my homework and aid in my tracking and follow up. What wins me deals though, is good old fashioned communication 101. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with clients who tell me that sales people have lost the art of communicating because of technology.
So how does this translate to you as a sales professional? And by the way, everyone is in sales, whether your business card says so or not. You’re either selling them on yes or they’re selling you on no. You must see technology for its real value and use it accordingly. If you want to win your way more often, it’s time to refine and build your basic communication skills.
Learn how to ask better open-ended questions. The best way to learn is practice. Dig deeper into your conversations and take notes. It’s huge sign of respect. You will get so much further and have far richer relationships. If you’re in sales, and aren’t we all, the proof will be on the dotted line.
Technology is wonderful and serves a great purpose. When it comes to winning business, deals or basic agreement, nothing beats a pen, a pad of paper, and great insightful questions. You will embarrass and dominate the competition.
Who are you really working for? I don’t mean the company, its directors or even your boss. Who do you think you are working for?
Most people can’t answer this question once you take away their boss and the company. A very small percentage will answer that they work for their customers. These people are smart. The most brilliant though, will answer they work for themselves first, their customers second and the company third.
Yes the customer really is the one paying your salary, not the company. But how much money can you really earn if you aren’t taking better care of your customers than everyone else? The answer is you can only earn what your worth.
So the more you invest in yourself, in your self-worth, the more earning potential you'll have. If you continuously invest in yourself your customers will reap the benefit of your advanced skill-set. Then they truly benefit. So you must work for "you" first.
Don’t get caught up in the excuse mindset that you work for a company and have no control. That’s a loser mindset. You’re not in prison. You’re free to do as you will. Don’t get caught up in the mindset that the company has to invest in you pay for your training either. That is also a loser mindset.
Winners invest in themselves. They know it pays dividends that are immeasurable at times. They know without skin-in-the game, you have no vested interest in following through with action. When you invest your money, your time, and your resources, you are far more likely to actually follow through and take action. Then your customers, and company by default, really benefit.
You work for you first. So take advantage of you by investing in yourself. Read books, attend trade shows, read industry publications, listen to audio programs, go to seminars and get a coach and/or a mentor. Your life will start paying you what you are really worth. You work for YOU!
A couple weeks ago I was sitting in the Boston Airport, waiting for my flight home and enjoying a clam chowder at one of my all-time favorite restaurants - Legals Seafood.
Nothing all that unusual, and in fact, this is normal for me to be in an airport. What was unusual though was a call a took from a potential new client. This is a prospect I’ve been pursuing for close to a year.
He asked me how well versed I was in their products and business and could I prove it? Interesting question, and it brings about a bigger question for you. How well prepared are you for life’s challenges and that next key engagement.
Are you doing all the work up front, the research, the physical preparation, mental and emotional preparation, and are you ready to prove it to others?
Now I can’t tell you what preparation you need to do in advance, because I don’t know what you’re going after. What I can tell you is how I prepared for this opportunity.
Before I ever picked up the phone, sent an email or an intro letter I researched this prospects business aggressively. I didn’t just look at their webpage. I looked into their financials, the differing markets, products, and economies they conduct business in.
I made a list of potential new markets they may or may not have been considering. I looked into those markets. I followed their company on LinkedIn. I followed the key players on twitter, and I found who we had in common on LinkedIn and arranged for introductions. Then I looked at their sales team members and how they managed and ran their sales process.
Once that was done, I also looked into their competitors for any advantages or disadvantages being exploited and/or ignored. The point is I was so thorough that I knew their business better than they did for the most part. Yet I hadn’t spoken to a single person about me or what I had to offer. I invested in myself preparing for the opportunity.
I’ll spare you the year of campaigning for their attention, and come full circle. When the Director of Sales asked me if I was prepared and could prove it, my response was simple: "Mark if I wasn’t prepared before I first contacted you then I should never have contacted you. Ask me anything about your business and I bet I can drill down better than anyone on your sales team.”
I won the business, and more importantly, made the client a cheerleader of Me even before I’ve conducted the first training series.
So I ask you again - how well are you preparing for life’s challenges and goals you set?
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