Why do you love selling? What is it that gets you fired up on Monday morning to get out there and visit with your prospects or customers? For me it’s real simple. I love to win. Sales is a competitive sport. I live for the thrill of victory and not the agony of defeat. The customer asks why they should buy from us. What is it that sets my company apart from the others? Many of the times the answer is you - the sales professional.
Charles Coonradt is the author of The Game of Work. He mentions that one of the most important elements of your sales team is to know your people! What is it that turns them on when it comes to the game of selling? He talks about the importance of motivation - but how do you define it?
Motivation actually has two components. The first is motive and the second is action. Understand that what motivates your people is the motive behind the sale which determines the action they take. I totally agree with Coonradt who emphasizes the importance of knowing your people. Each member of your sales team is driven to sell by different motives.
A persons’ personality style - identified by its color: blue, green, gold, orange - is key to understanding what motivates them, which is outlined below.
Someone with a blue personality style is motivated by the need to build new relationships and satisfy their customers. When they sell, they sell who they are to the customer.
Those with a gold personality are the best at selling their company. They are motivated to do what’s financially right by the customer.
A green personality is your best problem solvers. They are motivated by giving your customer the best and most unique solution.
Oranges are the best on beating the competition. They are motivated to win.
Can you guess which personality style I have?
When you understand what drives each sales person, you will better understand how to communicate with them in their terms. Their motive will drive their action which leads to greater performance and greater success!
The other half of the equation is that your people need to know you, your personality style and your style of motivating them. They need to understand your perspective. If you are a Gold personality - focused on numbers, metrics and results - you will have a tough time motivating your Blue and Orange personalities who are relationship driven and not into the details of metrics. Your Green people can understand metrics but they are more interested in problem solving.
As you manage your time, you’ll need to understand the needs of the various personalities. Blues are motivated by recognition and need more time with you. Oranges are more independent and don’t need much time; they are motivated by being appreciated. Greens enjoy their independence and do not need recognition and Golds like things tracked and are motivated by results.
Understanding what drives your sales people is critical to your team’s success. And, it will help make team communications much more effective. As you get to know your customers’ personality style, ask for some insight from a team member that is the same style. This will give you a valuable perspective of the situation you might not otherwise see.
Because sales is a competitive sport, it’s vital that you:
- Understand what motivates your people
- Let them know what motivates you
- Leverage your team members’ strengths for versatility.
Now that’s a winning combo!
Harry Beckwith says in his book, Selling to the Invisible, that your biggest competitor today is indifference! This means that your ability to get your prospects and customers engaged is even more important. You need to insure that they won’t just forget and let your winning solution die on the vine. And how does that happen?
First, realize that indifference is about engagement.
As I read this new book on sales, I remembered a situation years ago when I was competing for a large IT project. After moving through the sales cycle we began to realize that we weren’t up against our usual competitors - it was the customer himself we had to worry about! Even though they had allocated 1.2 million dollars for the project, as it came down to decision making time, other departments were fighting for the same dollars for their own needs. If you’ve been in a similar position you know that when you’re fighting against internal priorities you’ve lost control.
If they are indifferent about your solution, you may be in trouble. The antidote? Make sure they are engaged enough to articulate the benefits of your products or services so that they can sell your solution and fend off the competition from other departments. Ask them, “What do you see as the benefits of this solution to your organization”? The better they can communicate the value, the more likely they are to choose you. Why?
We retain only 20% of what we hear and retain 70% of what we say - so, when they say it they retain it! Then when they pitch the CEO, they stand a much better chance of getting the funds.
Beckwith says that value is not a competitive position - it’s what you promise to deliver. And what are you promising to deliver? Will your solution increase revenues, decrease costs, increase market share or increase productivity? Will the customer see your impact and value as a must for their organization? Or is it something they can live without?
You need to articulate your value with benefit statements. End every feature statement of your solution with, “so that….” For example, “our new insurance benefits programs allow employees to go online and manage their account - so that your HR managers do not have to handle every change an employee wants to make, saving valuable hours each week needed for other HR functions.
You can’t assume that your prospects see the value of your solution - in reality they probably don’t. Value is only defined from their perspective and rarely do they take the time to see through your solution to find the value. Therefore, you must solicit their feedback to see if they truly understand the benefits. If they agree there will never be indifference and they will fight for the funds to buy your solution.
Remember that indifference disappears when you
- Communicate your value;
- Help them get engaged;
- Make sure the customer can articulate the benefits of your solution.
Arm your customers with this information and indifference will no longer be your biggest competitor.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering the end of my story…
That competition did delay the sale. But we understood that if we allowed our customer to become indifferent we would lose. Instead we helped them articulate the benefits and in the end, we won!
I love the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s tough times for the Chicago Real Estate office. Blake (played by Alec Baldwin) challenges the sales team to a contest. The prizes? 1st place gets the Cadillac El Dorado. 2nd place gets a set of steak knives. And 3rd place- you get the sack - you’re fired! Blake sports his Rolex and preaches to the team about the ABC’s of selling - Always Be Closing!
Does Always Be Closing work in this day and age? I don’t think so. As I mentioned last month in Daniel Pink’s book “To Sell is Human”, customers are more knowledgeable than ever before. All they need to do is Google their question and in no time they can find many solutions, not just yours. Supply has overcome demand in this day and age.
Daniel Pink suggests that ABC should now be the acronym for Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. Let’s look at what each of these mean.
Focus on your customers’ perspective. Daniel Pink says, “attunement is bringing one’s actions and outlook into harmony” with the customer. We need to identify the customers’ personality style. How do they like to be approached? How do they make decisions, how do they prefer to communicate and what is the perceived value they seek - based on their personality?
Attunement is adapting to what’s comfortable for them. You want to mirror how they behave. People tend to do business with people like themselves. I like me; therefore I would do business with me. It’s always better to view the opportunity from their perspective.
Attunement is also about understanding that customers make decisions with their heart as much as their head. That is, perspective is just as important as empathy. Some personality styles (Orange and Blue being right brained) are more attuned to empathy and (Gold and Green being left brain) are more attuned to perspective.
Roll with the punches. How do we handle concerns and objectives? Even more importantly, how do you handle rejection? Buoyancy is the ability to bounce back from a setback. The best sales people are buoyant. Part of buoyancy is being optimistic and customers are more amenable to sales people that are upbeat.
Help the customer decide. Clarity is contrast. Your customer says your price is too high. Our response is compared to what? How do you make your solution standout as the best? How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
Daniel Pink tells a story of how a blind man is sitting in a park and has a sign saying “I am blind”. No one throughout the day stops to put money in his cup. Someone stops by and asks the man if he can add a few words to his sign. The blind man says sure. After adding the words the man comes back to check on the blind man’s cup and finds that it is overflowing. What did the man add to the sign? Just 3 words. “It is springtime”. This is not just clarity but context. By adding it is springtime to I am blind, it creates empathy by those that walked by. They can appreciate the beautiful the blooming flowers and trees, yet this man cannot see it.
21st Century ABC’s
In today’s world, ABC, formerly known as always be closing, stands for:
- Attunement - focus on their perspective
- Buoyancy - be optimistic and roll with the punches
- Clarity - add context
Use these three keys for your sale success.
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