Updated: May 4, 2019
Welcome to the first chapter of the sales section. I will be covering different aspects of sales. Today’s post will serve as a high-level introduction to sales. I will cover sales more in-depth as we progress.
Before anything, I would like to start backward and describe what is NOT SALES:
You Vs. The customer
Look, I enjoyed the Wolf of Wall Street, it was a fun movie to watch. But that’s all it is, A MOVIE. Besides the illegal things going on in the movie, there was a deep underlying issue with the way sales were approached:
The customer was seen as the enemy. An enemy to deceive and “beat”.
In reality, the customer is YOUR ALLY when you do things right. Great salesmen find ways to align their expertise/offerings with their clients, creating opportunities to work side-by-side. I used to talk to a professor who used to be high-up in sales at IBM decades ago about his experiences. He mentioned that at times he would develop such great relationship with his clients that the clients would call him and tell him “I got $X left in the budget, what do you have for me that could dazzle me, Tim?”, then more often than not make a sale.
THEY TRUSTED HIM AND HIS KNOWLEDGE (More on that later.)
Dissertation-level PRODUCT presentations
I am not saying you shouldn’t know your product, YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR PRODUCT. In fact, many deals are blown because of a lack of knowledge, but NOT THE KIND OF KNOWLEDGE YOU THINK.
Many reps will know their products but will have a very limited knowledge about the client, or worse assume they know everything. They will give a presentation worthy of a college dissertation regarding their product, specs, awards, etc. The client will robotically nod along, looking bored, then at the end of the meeting tell the rep he will “think about it.” What went wrong here?
THE CLIENT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PRESENTATION.
The client has goals he wants to achieve, deadlines to meet, money to make. He doesn’t want to know about the hundreds of features your cloud offering has, ALL HE WANTS TO KNOW IS IF YOUR OFFERING WILL GET HIM CLOSER TO THOSE GOALS.
Now that we have covered those 2 cardinal sins, let’s get to the real question.
What is sales?
The official definition of sales is the exchange of a commodity for money. You have something someone else wants, and they have something you want (money.) Obviously, it’s never that simple. Objections are frequent, doubts are the norm and the whole process gets more complex depending on the size and importance of the deal. But those can be addressed as long as you cover the fundamentals.
In reality, IF YOU CAN ANSWER 3 QUESTIONS FOR QUALIFIED DECISION-MAKERS, YOU WILL CLOSE 99% OF THE TIME IF YOU FAIL IT’S GAME OVER:
1. Why YOUR COMPANY/PRODUCT?
2. Why YOU?
3. Why NOW?
Why your company/product?
Unless you are a world-famous sales expert like Grant Cardone, your company’s name will be your ticket in the door. If an IT director gets contacted by John from Microsoft, odds are he won’t know John, but HE KNOWS MICROSOFT. If the company is a big player like Microsoft, odds are the client already has an opinion about your company (for better or worse.)
Your goal here is to UNDERSTAND THE CLIENT AND THEIR NEEDS FIRST, THEN LINE THOSE UP WITH YOUR COMPANY’S EXPERTISE. You might have a discovery call with a client trying to upgrade their security infrastructure, after hearing about their specific needs, the next step is to discuss ways in which your company’s offerings could help them achieve their security goals.
If you get your job done, more than likely you won’t close the sale here, but you will create enough interest for a follow-up call to keep the ball rolling. Most importantly, YOU WILL get the buyer to see your company as a viable option.
Not only does the buyer have to trust the company, but they must trust you. Going back to the example above, MICROSOFT COULD BE THE BEST OPTION IN THAT PARTICULAR INSTANCE FOR THE CLIENT, BUT MAYBE JOHN IS NOT. Maybe John has already exhibited traits the client doesn’t want in a rep (tardiness, lying, condescending attitudes, etc.) In that case, the deal is pretty much blown.
You need to show the client that you are the right person for the job. It starts with basic business professionalism (be on time, keep your promises, etc.), then it continues by showing a legitimate interest in your client and their issues. WHEN THE CLIENT SEES THAT YOU ARE INVESTED IN THEIR SUCCESS AND NOT JUST TRYING TO MEET QUOTA, THEY WILL REALLY TRUST YOU.
Here is the thing: they are human too. THEY UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE GOALS AS WELL, AND IF YOU BUILD THE RIGHT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP THEY WILL HELP YOU SUCCEED TOO. Look back at the example I gave back when my professor was in sales. The client didn’t “urgently need” a product, but he had some “funny money” left in his budget and he decided to throw his trusted partner a bone and make an extra purchase.
ONCE THE CLIENT SEES THAT YOU ARE RIGHT PERSON TO BE AT THE DRIVER’S SEAT, YOUR LIFE WILL GET EASIER.
This one sneaks up on many sales reps. They convince the buyer about why they need to buy X, only to have things come to a standstill. What happened here?
THERE WASN’T ENOUGH URGENCY TO ACT NOW.
Understand this, decision-makers have tons of initiatives, proposals, and projects in their desk, but when you combine pressing deadlines and budget limitations, YOUR OFFERING CAN EASILY FALL WAY DOWN IN THEIR LIST OF PRIORITIES IF YOU DON’T GIVE THEM A REASON TO ACT NOW.
It’s not rocket science. We all have been in a situation where we see a cool gadget on Amazon that attracts us, but we end up spending our money in something we find a more pressing need for.
THE KEY TO BYPASSING THIS IS BY ESTABLISHING THE COST OF DELAY. Assuming you did everything up to here right, you should have a clear picture of your customer’s landscape. From here it’s your job to point out the opportunity cost of delaying the process.
Example based on the Security example above: “I understand your point and how tight your schedule is. My main concern is the risk involved delaying this. You mentioned you already suffered 2 security scares this year already where you were nearly breached. If we delay this until next year, you would remain exposed to threats that continue getting more dangerous by the day. I want to ensure that we can give you the protection you need and give you the results you expect ASAP.”
You get the idea. You are helping them get past their cold feet and showing them the importance of your product, emphasizing what it could do for their goals.
There is much more that could be said about sales. However, I wanted to kick off this off by giving you a basic overview of the land. You need to understand the fundamentals before you dig into specifics. Once the fundamentals are handled, you will notice that you most of the time you have won the battle. The 80/20 rule is HUGE in sales.
I will be paying attention to comments, current events in the industry and create more specific content as I go.