The other day I said to one of my clients, “You spend so much time chasing sales that you never understand your market.” This is so true of the typical small business owner. The ownership runs around chasing sales without ever understanding that they have no idea of developments in their market. If you want to grow your business for REAL, you had better understand your market.
One of the companies I work for recently hired a new salesperson which I am helping to train. The company for the most part has operated without any full time salespeople throughout its existence. The owner has had salespeople working for him on and off for the last 20 years but for the most part they were not successful and they did not stick around long. The owner has a technical background and to this point has not spent a lot of time understanding salespeople and more specifically how to manage salespeople. He would hire someone and cross his fingers and hope they would work out.
In the training of this new salesperson I have been telling him not to worry about making sales. He has been with us two months and I keep preaching to him to do a couple of things. First, go find people who are buying a lot of what we are selling and 2) initiate and have meaningful conversations with these folks. I want him first and foremost to understand the needs of the companies we are selling to. If he understands the needs he can help us figure out ways to sell them.
In order for him to have meaningful conversations he needs to understand the typical problems these companies have. He needs to be able to speak their language. He needs to have excellent listening skills. He has to be able to develop the ability to recognize faulty logic and illogical assumptions on the prospect’s part. He needs to have the ability to ask excellent questions so he reveals this poor logic at least to himself if not to the prospect. He needs to be able to identify the real problems that they have and then have the courage to get confirmation from the prospects that this is indeed a real problem. He should be reading a few books and regularly reading magazine articles about the industry.
I have come to call this type of selling Full Contact Selling. In football you have flag or touch football and then you have full contact. If you want to make an impression on a running back lay him out with a bone crushing tackle and he will probably remember you. In Full Contact Selling you get to deeply understand the company you are trying to sell to by asking thoughtful and insightful questions. You ask the questions no one wants to answer. In the process of this you gain an understanding of the company that enables you to help them solve their real problems and they remember you.
While making cold calls with our new salesperson recently, I told him he was spending way to much time trying to get people to like him. This is the good ole boy sales approach.
The salesperson talks about everything else other than the business; the Chiefs, the weather, weekend plans and avoids talking about anything of significance.
Meaningful conversations revolve around what is really going on in the business and the identification of real problems. The value to us and the competitive advantage we will develop is if this salesperson continues to bring back excellent business intelligence about what problems prospects in our market our struggling with. This information will help us make numerous sales to numerous prospects in our market. The salesperson will actually help us understand our market intimately and completely. This type of salesperson puts their companies in a position to dominate which is almost as satisfying as a bone crushing tackle.