Sales Moves

These days global sales needs are local sales needs

September 4, 2012
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I’m traveling to Warsaw, Poland, next month to deliver two public seminars. After a couple of Skype interviews, I discovered that although the United States and Poland are 5,000 miles and many, many cultures apart, our sales needs are the same.

To prove my point, here’s a portion of the question-and-answer interview I did.

Jeffrey, everyone needs to increase sales, especially during this economic crisis. Everyone is looking for some magical formula or shortcut. You write there is no formula, but there are rules to follow that will lead you to the promised land of more sales. What’s the best way to keep up sales during the current recession?

Recession means “less,” not “none.” Salespeople have to fight harder during tough economic times. I recommend having a morning breakfast or coffee with a client or a prospective client. This gets your day started early and on a positive note. But this is only one way to keep your sales up. It takes a concerted effort that includes social media, solid relationships, referrals and attraction. It’s not impossible — and it’s not easy. The good news is most salespeople are not willing to do the preliminary hard work it takes to make sales easy.

How about sales channels? You talk a lot about different media (e-mail, video, social networks, etc.) as ways of selling. How is the role of the salesperson changing, and what’s changing in terms of which sales channels are being used right now?

The Internet and all forms of social media are the new channels and the now channels. But it’s not one channel, it’s all of them, each with its own formula for attraction, engagement and connection. Is there one key element that’s a constant across all channels? Yes, the element is perceived value to the recipient.

In your newest book, “Social Boom,” you say social media is the new cold call. How does that work best?

Here’s the short version of using social media to connect for the first time: I can find anyone on LinkedIn, and then by using simple Google search and research, I find out everything I need to make a personal connection. Once I connect, I ask for an informal meeting (usually coffee) to see if we have anything in common, or if there’s a need for my product or service. The secret is the first call is not a sales call, and the first meeting is not a sales pitch.

You state, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” One of the things people can take away from that is to be themselves and be authentic as a leader or as a salesperson. How is authenticity important in sales?

For maximum clarity, let’s separate this question into two answers.

1. Buying. The key to selling is uncovering why the prospect wants to buy. Also called a “buying motive,” it reveals the real reason for purchase. This strategy is much more powerful that trying to convince the buyer that your product is great by trying to “sell” it.

2. Authenticity. Authenticity is a characteristic the prospective customer perceives as the presentation and the relationship move forward. Authenticity is not a specific characteristic; it is derived from the ethical, honest and consistent actions of your total words and deeds.

Leaders must prove their own authenticity and the authenticity of their company. Tasteless, forgettable mission statements don't have the force of attracting strong customers. What defines glorious organization in the 21st century?

Most companies, especially large ones, fail to understand the difference between a mission statement, a value statement, a vision statement and a hot-air marketing message no one understands or believes in. A company needs two mission statements: one for the company and one for its salespeople. If you give salespeople a real mission, they will accomplish it. It is also important to understand that “core values” must precede “mission”; it has nothing to do with being “No. 1.” It has everything to do with being “best.” Apple has proven that, and the world needs to learn that lesson.

Is it true that many leaders are not keeping up with changes in the market, changes in technology and changes in human capital needs? Should they be blamed for sales losses and errors?

Leaders are only partly to blame. When they are not on top of market changes and technology updates, they are giving their people permission to do the same. But the real issue is the talent pool the leader creates. Human capital, if chosen correctly, can create their own examples by taking responsibility (the opposite of blame) for the generation of new ideas and products to stay ahead of their market.

What are the key indicators in the candidates you’re shortlisting when recruiting for a sales position?

Here’s the short list for hiring the best people: smart, self-starting, positive people with a past history of success. The rest (including selling skills) can be taught.

What mistakes have salespeople frequently made, and what’s the best way to correct them?

The biggest mistake salespeople make is thinking it's all about “product” and “price.” They fail to understand that believing in every aspect of self, product, company and customer will lead them to the success they are hoping for.

Ask yourself this: Is my world different from their world? I guarantee you have the same issues, questions and concerns in your company — and in your sales — as they have in Warsaw.

The world is small. Your world is smaller. Answers are becoming universal.

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