I have been doing a lot of traveling during the last two months. In spite of Chicago's brutal weather and some minor inconveniences, my flights and hotel reservations have gone remarkably smoothly and I have experienced a high level of customer service.
I had, however, an out-of-the-ordinary encounter at my hotel last week. It was late when I checked in and the woman who registered me was unusually chatty. During the 15 minutes that it took to register me she expressed enormous curiosity about my company and the sales profession in general. At the time I didn't think much about it, left a wake-up call, and retired for the evening. I don't require much sleep, but I do sleep soundly so when the phone rang at 5AM, I was startled to be awakened by a personal message from the woman who checked me in the night before.
The voice at the other end of the phone said, in a very loud, firm voice, "Wake up Mr. Bartlett, it's time to go out into the world, find some prospects and close them." She went on to say, "The world is counting on you to help us recover from this recession. Have a nice day and sell something!"
This startling and profound message changed the way I approached the sales call I had scheduled for later that day. Now I felt the pressure of saving the world, not just selling sales training.
The call made me think: what if-by selling my products and services-I was having a positive impact on the economy?
Here are the rules I utilize, based on my "reshaped" thinking:
- Stop selling features and benefits and start focusing on the prospects' reasons to buy. Prospects don't really care about a salesperson's features and benefits unless there is a way to relate them to the compelling issues they are facing. Now is the time for all salespeople to refocus their energy on connecting products and services to the real needs of prospects. Help prospects determine that utilizing your products and services and working with you will have a positive impact on them personally. Prospects buy for their reasons-not yours. Sometimes they even buy in spite of a salesperson's reasons. At that point, they have figured out what the salesperson hasn't.
- If your competitors are doing it, stop doing it immediately. Most of the time, salespeople and their competitors look and sound exactly alike, so prospects reduce all of them to one simple common denominator-lowest price. It's time to match products and services to the real reason they buy from you-the resolution of their pain.
- Today's selling imperative is "Ask better questions." Make prospects think of you as a strategic partner in their battle with the recession. It is critical to stop asking the same old tired questions that they hear from all salespeople and focus on questions that make them think. Each prospect listens to the radio station WII-FM, "What's In It - For Me!" and must be able to connect your products and services to their business strategy and bottom line. It's time to break the trance that all prospects develop when a salesperson speaks.
- You can't lose what you don't have. I have found that many salespeople act very cautiously when they are in front of potential prospects. This timid behavior, for fear of losing potential business, sends a message of neediness that places them at a significant disadvantage. The mantra for selling in today's recessionary times is, Courage not Caution. High performing salespeople realize that they should never be aggressive; however, they must be assertive in their dealings with prospects who have read far too many newspaper headlines.
- See the business world objectively. The wake up call from the assertive young desk clerk juxtaposed my thinking on the economy. By telling me that I can influence the recession by the way I sell, she gave me permission to control my destiny and eliminate any lingering "head trash."
It's time for each of us to be jarred out of our comfort zones. It's time to sell something so we-the sales nation-can rescue the economy.