There is a reason why Whalers keep a gaffe on the side of the boat. Experience has taught no matter how good the fisherman… baiting, luring, hooking, and reeling to the side are all very necessary skills, but the job is not done until the trophy is actually in the boat.
Many salespeople have the best of intentions and will say and do all the right things. Landing a whale requires more than just a nice boat and fancy gear – it requires the knowledge and experience of what comes next. Acknowledge the fact there is always more to learn and the best resource is others who have been there before. Take the time to ask the right questions, listen, and then realize many attempts may be required. Understand most such attempts will be unsuccessful, but are a prerequisite to learning the proper technique of not only reeling it in, but getting it over the side and into the boat.
Step One – Bait the hook! More on that to come… stay tuned!
Why do you trust your best friend? It is because you each have invested the time to get to know each other and have developed a true relationship. You have open and honest conversations with each other and know regardless of how tough it may sometimes be, you would never steer the other astray. It sometimes reaches a point where you feel you know what the other might be thinking, but this type trust does not magically appear overnight.
The same holds true with relationships we develop in the business world. While you may not reach the “Best Friend” status a relationship still possesses a lot of the same attributes. It requires an intentional attitude, where you must invest the time to do your research, and begin the conversations. It is not something you do out of dictate, it is developed over time through deliberate actions.
To establish a true relationship you must first be invited in… To receive such an invitation requires you to develop some semblance of trust, or desire on their part to get to know you better. Trust is an action not a reaction and is earned over time. To earn trust they must know you are sincere in what you have to offer – which translated into simplest terms means “you must first believe that your solution for them is in fact what’s best for them”. Without complete belief in this you will never be able to be invited into and develop a trusting relationship with the customer.
Truth recognizes truth… every time! When you believe you have the best solution it comes through as sincerity in your speech and mannerisms. Your clients will see this and respond accordingly.
It’s amazing how sometimes it takes a near catastrophic event to expose the simplest of realities. The recession that began in early 2008 is a perfect example. Prior to this for decades… jobs were plentiful, credit approval processes lackadaisical and worse – readily available, with perceived expendable income at an all-time high. Consumers bought what they wanted while actual value of product took a back seat to perceived value. However… when the economy turned south over-extension was revealed in epidemic proportion. Those extended too far were forced to lighten the load selling off many of these once prized possessions at loss, or worse yet losing to a repossession.
What has emerged from all this is a more savvy, better informed, slower to purchase consumer. They are not out of money, and they are still making purchases, they are just doing so from a different perspective. Therefore, the requirement to build value in a consumer product and ability to “paint the picture and establish value” has never been higher. This has always been a required skill for successful sales, it’s just that during a booming economy fueled by a have-to-have mentality from an entitlement generation, not as necessary… until now!
Because of this shifting paradigm… If you have not mastered the art of building value and painting the picture – you are going to get beat by someone who has. That is until you sharpen your skills to better compete and ultimately win. This is not an opinion it’s a fact. There may still be a few holdout old-timers who want to convince you that you just have to learn to better “sell the sizzle”, but I’m here to tell you those days are gone. This new buyer not only has the desire to examine the steak but wants to taste it as well prior to purchase. That’s because in the past they bought the “sizzle” but all they got was hungry. Any Questions?
There are different terms and mindsets that relate to Transactional Business specific to sales. Those associated with this type transaction are sometimes referred to as “order-takers”. Regardless of the terminology this type business is the type that finds you – you do very little to find it, if anything. All you have to do to complete the transaction is to be present to win.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this type business , but let me warn you the worst thing you can do is to categorize as normal and/or get comfortable with its bounty. To do so would cause you to become complacent by thinking it a continuous revenue stream on which to rely. History has shown time and time again, as quickly and effortlessly as it appears it can even more quickly disappear.
You may or may not have the benefit of such business – my advice to you is take it when you can, but realize it only as added value to what you must continuously be cultivating. The past couple decades have produced way too many order-takers with sub par sales abilities. This individual sits around working luke-warm leads just waiting for the next piece of business to fall in their lap. Exposure comes when the tides shift and the dynamics of which the business is being generated changes for one reason or another. The harsh reality is this person quickly realizes their plan is nothing more than a roadmap displaying the shortest distance between their perspective and going broke – or even worse unemployed.
The only thing on which you can count on is there is going to be change. Technology is evolving, buyers are better educated, and competitors more aggressive, all contributing to a constantly changing environment. Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote a book called Who Moved My Cheese and in it he addresses this situation. It’s an awesome book that if you have not read you quickly should.
To put something in motion requires energy, or in layman’s terms an action that must first be taken. If you want to be successful you have to do something to make it happen. Sitting around and waiting only allows those taking the action to get there before you. There is a reason it’s called “Going to Work” and NOT “Going to Wait”. Get out there and make something happen.
There is a definite difference between Give-Away and Walk-Away. The key to executing the latter is to accept that in a negotiating situation it is okay for both parties to realize things just don’t quite fit and not executing an agreement at that time is okay. In this situation you can walk away with a better understanding of each’s needs and position. The door is still open and relationship in tact – so that when better solutions arise, or circumstances change you can re-engage and are already further down the road with an inside working knowledge. There is a lot to be said for a mutual respect in business.
Throughout my career I have worked under the dictate of “Take no Prisoners” and “Leave Nothing on the Table” which is counter-cultural to relationship driven solution selling. We’ve all had the sales manager who wants to step into the deal in the eleventh hour and slash the price by 50% just to keep a customer (in their mind) from walking out on the deal. Regardless how loud they bang their chest or give you that look as if to say “that’s how you do it…” in reality nothing has been accomplished and much has been lost. Sure the bottom line receives revenue and the manager may equate the deal to a loss-leader of sorts but damage has been done. What damage? First… the sales manager has completely discredited the sales person by showing there was a better deal if the right buttons were to be pushed, or sales manager called. Second… because the better deal was not presented as a winning solution for both parties initially, so what else might they be withholding? All this type behavior does is breed mistrust and as long as that exists positive relationships will never be developed.
Some may justify that something is better than nothing. That might be true if you were talking to the last viable candidate for your solution on the face of the earth, but as long as there are potential consumers for your product… my suggestion would be to focus on providing a winning solution for both sides. Build a relationship, and have the gusto to walk-away from bad deals – knowing there are other opportunities and even the ability to re-engage with this customer at a later time with an alternative solution. Learn the art of walk-away and abandon the panic reflex of give-away.
Never pretend to be someone you are not… While I would love to say people will always see through the facade, the truth is they sometimes won’t – at least not initially. What I can tell you is once they do realize you are not who you say you are they will not forget.
We are exposed to politicians constantly trying to sway our way of thinking, and unfortunately more often than not pretending to be someone other than who they really are. When they are challenged, they have even been so bold as to dismiss as campaign rhetoric. Rhetoric is defined as “the undue use of exaggeration or display”… Really? When positioning yourself to another do you want to exaggerate and run the risk of being exposed as someone you are not? Think about it… what happens when you see a presidential candidate visiting unions or making a stop in a coal mining town. What do they do? They step off their million dollar bus, take off their thousand dollar suit coat, and roll up the sleeves of their hundred-dollar shirt. It has always puzzled me why they think this “act” makes them one of the gang. It might endear them for the moment, but the minute they jump back on the bus, fix their shirt, dust off their coat, and head for Washington it becomes abundantly clear who they really are. The candidate who takes the time to be themself, sit and listen, and speak honestly with respect and integrity will build a relationship that will last a lifetime.
It’s no different with the impression you need to make and relationship you must establish with your clients. They need to see and get to know the person with whom they will be working with for years to come. If they are introduced to one person only to realize you are the complete opposite the relationship will end there, and you will have to start all over. If you find yourself constantly starting over why not change the way you are doing things, no smoke and mirrors, get off the campaign trail and start building relationships that will last longer than a term or two.
Do you feel your strongest negotiating skill is that you can bluff with the best of them? Some think to be good in sales also means you must be able to bluff your way into a power position as part of negotiations – I disagree.
The word “bluff” means to hide or conceal. Even the best at this work incredibly hard not to outwardly display the fact they are concealing information, and still fail in the process. When you have something to hide there is always an inner fear of being discovered that manifests itself in different ways. Inevitably you run the risk of exposing this fact; be it a slip of the tongue or slight change in mannerisms – something will happen and a savvy negotiator will pick up on it and expose it for what it is. When this happens you will lose or be forced to compromise.
I ask the first of two open-ended questions: “What is the difference between hiding the truth (bluffing) and lying?” My recommendation is to take an alternative approach to negotiating and that is to never bluff. Instead… chose carefully what information you feel relevant to a good solution for both parties, and that’s it, no more – no less. I will warn you this will create the inherent need to think through every step of the negotiation process. It requires constant control of your actions, forcing you to think through both sides of the equation. You must not only anticipate potential questions but think through every answer as well. The advantage is this alleviates the need to hide the fact you may be withholding something in the process, because you are not.
I have discovered that irregardless what business you are in, the community in which you exist is always smaller than you might think, and eventually everything comes full-circle. Once you have occupied a position within an industry for any length of time you realize it’s a small community where everyone knows everyone and they all talk. If you are part of that community they will talk about you as well.
Now for the second question: What type of reputation would you like to develop… that of a person who likes to bluff or one of a person who never bluffs? Which do you think establishes a stronger power position?