During a recent visit with Joe my chiropractor, he asked me what I did for a living. This question always ends in blank stares, but I obliged, “I write sales training.” He stopped adjusting me, he laughed a bit, and then replied,
“So, how have I been doing? Any recommendations on stronger closes? What is the magic ‘close’ folks are using these days?”
I didn’t respond immediately – for two reasons:
- First, I questioned if I could still trust Joe. Was I a patient or a commission?
- Second, in that moment, I realized doctors need sales skills too!
Why did the thought of my doctor being a salesman invoke immediate questions of trust? When introduced to the thought that my doctor was trying to “sell me,” why did I immediately begin questioning the relationship Joe and I established? Did Joe care about my well-being? Was he vested in my recovery or in meeting quota? My mind automatically took me to an image of that horrible used car salesman stereotype. Why do we go to that image? Why do sellers get such a bad rap? To understand this, let’s consider how sellers are “born.”
What is the typical formula for producing a seller?
Step 1: Find someone that is “born to sell.”
Step 2: Load them up with product knowledge.
Step 3: Send them on their way.
This is a very common ramp plan for a new seller. Once this preparation is completed, management’s focus is on making the numbers. As long as they aren’t doing something illegal or unethical, how they sell is irrelevant. Unfortunately, what happens to many of these people is that they find themselves with no clear process for success and their backs against the wall. They need to perform to make money, to feed their families, or in some cases to keep their jobs.
Now, with this pressure to perform, what will they do to make a deal?
ANYTHING they can including pushy tactics and sleazy closing techniques. They need to get deals done, and this is how many sales people unwittingly contribute to the negative perception of our profession.
“How am I doing?” Joe asked.
In that moment, I realized that doctors need sales skills too! Sales Skills have multi-disciplinary application.
Honestly, Joe was doing a great job because up until that moment it never dawned on me that he was “selling me.” During my discussions with Joe I felt that the recommendations and services selected were as a result of a collaborative decision process based on the recommendation of an expert (exactly as the ideal sales engagement should flow). In fact, he did such a great job “selling me” I even added additional services to my visits including orthopedic deep tissue massages with hot stones. Who could possibly say, “no,” to that?
Selling isn’t a bad word. It happens every day.
What we have to be cautious of is the methodology deployed. The sales methodology needs to help sellers to provide value for customers, and by default create sales where there is a good match between our solutions and our prospect.
My conversation with Joe demonstrated that we need to redefine what selling is and change our perception of sales.
Selling is getting someone to take ownership of our position.
Regardless of your occupation at some point you have to sell an idea, a product, or a service. It’s ok. Just admit it. YOU ARE IN SALES. Pretty much everyone is in sales; some are just much better at it than others. We all need to own our role as sales professionals and behave accordingly. Our real job is to provide value, be an advocate, a trusted advisor, and educate our customers on the impact we can deliver. Whether we are selling products, services, ideas, or positions we are selling because what we do solves problems. We are selling to bring value.
Ultimately was I upset that Joe “sold me”? No. In fact, I was grateful that I could have additional services that would offer some pain relief and all in same convenient location with weekend hours to boot!
The sooner you embrace your inner sales professional, the quicker you can begin offering value. I will even get us started.
“Hi, my name is Michelle, I’m a Program Development Manager, and I am a Sales Professional.”
Now get out there and focus on offering value and impact for your customers by remembering the keys to owning your sales success:
- Whether we are selling products, services, ideas, or positions we are selling because what we do solves problems. We are selling to bring value.
- We provide value by identifying gaps and providing impact with the solutions we provide.
- Realize that our engagement with the customer is based on our mutual objective. We are both engaged in this discussion to determine IF we have something that delivers meaningful value to the buyer; something they want to own.
- The sales methodology you apply needs to create an environment that facilitates an open honest conversation so that you and your buyer can achieve your mutual objective.
Feel the fear, acknowledge it, embrace your inner sales professional, and share your experiences with us! Happy Selling!