In the movie, these Wall Street sellers are satirized as carnivores who have no mercy on their prey, and certainly no customer focus. But in my career, I have heard real-life sales people say that exact same thing.
Sales Should Not Be a Zero-Sum Game
When it’s done right, sales is not a zero-sum game where in order for you to win the client has to lose. No more than for the client to win, you must lose. The truth is, when someone has a lot to lose… there is great opportunity for both parties, if the danger at hand is a challenge you can help solve and the client is willing to let you help solve it.
There are plenty of burn-and-churn sales people out there (perhaps that is one reason why getting appointments can be such a challenge these days). But if you look at sales as a long-term career, you should spend your time building relationships and helping customers solve challenges, not just grabbing for short-term deals. Prospecting, listening, problem-solving, and presenting are the activities; sales are the outcome. So focus on how you both can win, rather than on which of you must lose.
“Low-hanging fruit.”I’ve heard this cliché used by sales managers while trying to suggest that a certain package or offer would be so easy to pitch, or that a certain set of prospects would be so easy to harvest… any idiot could do it. When a task is painted in that light, there can be little pride in succeeding with it.
Chances are, “low-hanging fruit” is referring to prospects that could be described as Secondary Accounts or Extras… and you should have some of those. But your career will be built by successfully converting Target Accounts into Key Accounts. Perhaps a bit more challenging to do, but certainly more rewarding!
Another phrase we should stop using is the classic (and way over-used) needs analysis question: “What keeps you up at night?”
Look, I realize we’re trying to uncover really important needs. But if finding those needs is so critical, shouldn’t we at least spend a few minutes writing more creative, specific, meaningful questions that have not been used a ka-billion times?
Resources to Uncover Client Needs
The Center for Sales Strategy has plenty of tools to stimulate your thinking, and help you craft intelligent needs analysis questions that are more likely to uncover important, specific needs. On the other hand, generic questions (like “What keeps you up at night”) are likely to help you uncover generic answers (like, “Gas pain”).
So think out of the box, and take your game to the next level. Give 110% as you work toward a new set of best practices. The net-net will be a new core competency. Yes, I did just include 5 clichés in one sentence. In other words…
Get all those old sales and business clichés out of your system.