The 10 Commandments
The following 10 Commandments are a list of imperatives that sales people need to embrace in order to become more effective and productive in the information economy where it is critical for them to take a counterintuitive approach to change the traditional flow of information, build trust and truly understand their customers.
- Thou shalt not sell. The harder you sell the harder it is to sell. Selling by its very nature so often produces the exact opposite effect. The greatest enemy of selling is the illusion that it is happening. Take on a non-selling posture and give your customer the freedom to self-discover their own issues and come to their own conclusions independent of your own agenda.
- Thou shalt remain neutral. Ask tough questions that your customer is more interested in answering than you are in hearing. Suggest alternative solutions and options. Challenge their motives for changing. Do not be afraid to bring up roadblocks and hurdles. Ask questions that put your offering at risk. This is the ultimate posture in establishing trust and neutrality. Sell as if you have nothing to lose by getting to the truth of your customer's circumstances, convictions and motivations.
- Thou shalt seek the truth. Selling is more about seeking the truth than it is about persuasion, convincing and controlling. If someone could give you a magic potion that could make you a better persuader and convincer, or one that could make you simply get to the truth of your customer's problems, priorities and motives to buy, which one would you choose? The truth shall set you free! Selling is the pursuit of the customer's truth, not the sales person's truth. Find out what their reality is before you tell them what your reality is. Most sales people will not do this because they believe it is more important to try to create the truth than to simply find the truth.
- Thou shalt not be foolhardy in sloppy over-persistence. In the good old days traditional sales people could make a reasonable career up to $60,000 in income in sales by being dogged in their persistence with prospects and customers. Technologies such as voicemail, caller ID, email and electronic secretaries have neutralized the strategy of dogged persistence. If you are going to be persistent, be persistent with highly qualified prospects who have a compelling reason to change. Be more discriminatory and focused as to who you will be persistent with. Be persistent in asking tough questions to get to the truth of your customer's motivations.
- Thou shalt seek to find problems instead of being a problem. If the customer does not have any meaningful or actionable problems, then you have a big problem. If the customer is not forthcoming with sharing their problems, then you have to prompt them with typical problem scenarios that they may be facing. Without problems, you will be at risk as being perceived as being a pesky pest, a mere peddler and problem yourself.
- Thou shalt be willing to give up control. The way you gain control is to give up control. Customers will share so much more information if they feel secure and in control. Being in control is a deep emotional need. However, sales people try to gain control early in a sales call and ironically lose it. Their need to feel they are in charge greatly reduces their impact. When you allow your customer to be in control, they will tend to feel more psychologically safe and secure and will be more transparent, forthcoming and truthful.
- Thou shalt be willing to accept negative news. Rarely can you define yes by not first making no an acceptable answer. Because both sales people and customers tend to shy away from unflattering and negative information, both parties tend to operate in denial. By making no an acceptable answer to your customer, you build trust and you preserve valuable time and resources. Is the option of negative news the shortest distance to positive news? Often it is!
- Thou shalt protect their information. In the information economy your job is to get information not give information. The best presentation is the presentation of your customer's problems. When you are in a position of presenting information make sure you present it ideally when your customer is in the position to make decisions. Your customer learns more about the value of your offering through what you have to ask, instead of what you have to say.
- Thou shalt not be emotionally charged in the sales process. The sales person who is the least emotionally charged in the sales process will consistently outsell the most enthusiastic, eager and excitable sales person. You cannot be enthusiastic and at the same time have an objective and analytical conversation about your customer's problems. The fatal flaw of enthusiastic selling is it puts all the emphasis on the least important party at the selling event. Enthusiastic selling worked fabulously well in the pre-information economy where information was scarce, and sales people had a virtual monopoly. That is no longer the case. Thanks Google!
- Thou shalt leave their ego out of the sales process. Sales people make the fatal mistake of being ego-centric, product-centric and company-centric. By being ego-centric in their approach they only invalidate their customer's ego. When two egos are vying to be in charge of a sales call, the sales person usually loses out big time.
By following these 10 Commandments you begin to reverse the typical traditional problems sales people face day in and day out such as lack of trust, poor understanding of customer's problems, commoditization, misallocation of information, long selling cycles, higher cost of sales, and lack of a firm grasp on reality.