Are you unwittingly making this disastrous sales mistake?

A great blog post from Jill Conrath, author of Selling to Big Companies. Thanks for sharing Paul Dunay. Remember, selling is about them, not you.

Are you unwittingly making this disastrous sales mistake?

Get the name right

Just listened to a voice mail from a guy who’s company does “interactive holiday marketing.” In the voice mail he mentioned the name of someone that he claims he spoke to in the past here at my company. Only problem is there is no one here at my company that goes by the name he mentioned. Nor has there ever been in the eleven years I have worked here. If you are going to mention names, which is a good idea by the way, be sure to get them right.

Have to vs. get to

If you are not telling everybody about your service, then its probably not that great. You recommend movies, restaurants, and TV shows to others without hesitation. That’s because you have an emotional attachment to them. They brought some joy to your life and you want to share that with others. But do you have the same feeling about the service you offer?

If you truly believe your service will improve someones life, you are already telling people about it. You are figuring out ways to reach the people that will benefit from it and telling them all about it. You are disappointed when you get voice mail because you lost out on an opportunity to tell someone about your service. Is your attitude that you “have to” sell your service or you “get to” sell your service?

Let me give you a a great example.

I get lots of sales calls at work. And because of this, I don’t answer my phone if its not a number I recognize. So the other day I’m sitting at my desk working away and I get paged that there is a call for me. So I pick it up and surprisingly its a sales call. But the thing is, the guy was so sure that I would benefit from his service that he felt it was that important to speak with me. At first I was a little irritated but the more I listened to the guy, it was apparent that he really believed in what he was selling. He felt he just had to reach me. This guy had the privilege of “getting to” sell his service not “having to.”

There is a big difference and your customers and prospects can tell.

Who needs collateral material?

The topic of collateral material comes up often at my company. Its one of those things that everyone has an opinion on, and every opinion seems to be a little different. From copy to color to images to layout, everyone seems to love offering their opinions on how a brochure should look. But is collatreral material really that important?

I heard it said once that the best sales person only needs a pad of paper and a pen. And at the risk of offending some of my colleagues in sales, there is a lot of truth to that.

During a sales meeting the other day, we were going back and forth about what should be in our brochures. After 10-15 minutes of “discussion”, our Executive VP said something that really rang true, and I am paraphrasing:

“Let’s not forget that you are the ones selling the companies services, not the brochure. Don’t get caught up in what the brochure says or doesn’t say. What’s important is that you are out there speaking with clients and prospects and demonstrating to them your expertise and convincing them you are the solution to their problem.”

This statement ended the conversation in its tracks. Everyone knew it was true and we all realized that “discussing” brochure content was probably not a great use of everyone’s time.

So who needs collateral material? I know who doesn’t, and those are the people I want to buy from.

Marketing Key #7 of 13

Marketing Key #7 – Be a resource to your customers.

You absolutely have to be more than just the person/company your customer calls when they need to purchase your service. Do whatever it takes to be the industry expert in your customers eyes.

1. Send them the occasional email with a link to an article that relates to their business. Google News Alerts makes finding articles very easy.

2. Stop by with a magazine or newspaper article that relates to their industry.

3. Share information about one of their competitors

4. Share ideas about their website

5. Introduce them to people in your network that they would like to meet.

6. Basically, be proactive in providing your clients with information that will make them more informed, more successful and more reliant on you as the go to guy/girl.

If you really want to be viewed as a business partner versus a business vendor, this approach is an absolute must.

You learn nothing while you are speaking

I posted about this last December but it seems to be a subject that comes up over and over again.

People love to talk. They especially love to talk about themselves, which includes whatever it is that they are selling. I can’t count the number of times I have listened to sales pitches that started with a question about what I am looking for only to turn into a marathon session of “Here’s all our services, I’m hoping one fits your need.”

Remember that you learn nothing while you are speaking.

I remember the time I learned this first hand. I was interviewing at Intel and the guy that was interviewing me hardly said a word. He engaged me in some small talk in the beginning and then simply sat back and asked me questions and nodded his head. I really liked it at first. Here I am able to talk about all the great things I had done. But it soon became very uncomfortable as I began to realize that he knew way more about me than I knew about him or the position I was interviewing for. This put me at a huge disadvantage. There were even a few times where he left me hanging waiting to see what else I would say.

The situation applies to selling your service as well. Your job is not to spend as much time as possible talking about yourself or your service, but to ask questions to find out if there is a fit with what you are offering to what they are looking for.

Remember, the listener is always in control, even if the speaker thinks he is.

Who’s the stupid one?

More than once I have heard colleagues complain when a client goes with a competitor.

“What are they, stupid?” seems to be the comment I’ve heard often, “that company is horrible.”

In fact, I think I myself have uttered these words more times than I care to admit.

But is it really the client who is stupid? Probably not. The fact is, they went with the service that they perceived as having the best value. And if it wasn’t yours, who’s fault is that?

Its probably yours.

Relationships with your clients must be built over time. But never forget that the most important thing is for your clients to know the value of your service and what makes your service different from your competitors so next time they have a decision to make it will be the right one.