Inspiration for this blog came from my opportunity to hear the Key Bank Key4Women guest speaker and author, Cindy Solomon, talk about her new book, The Rules of Woo. Her topic was how the world and customer behaviors have changed over the past 30 years.
Listening to Cindy, I realized that a long corporate career in sales, leading and building teams and growing businesses has taught me a great deal about what today’s customers want from a GREAT sales professional. Customers in the 21st Century have different expectations and those expectations will continue to change over time. I believe that focusing on five key skills will allow you to become the G.R.E.A.T™ Sales Professional for the 21st Century.
Do you know what it takes to be G.R.E.A.T™? Hard work and dedication can only take you so far. What distinguishes YOU from your competitors is YOUR ability to provide VALUE. The five skills you want to develop and practice to become G.R.E.A.T™ are:
Attitude Is Everything
Successful individuals build loyalty, enjoy long-lasting relationships with customers, and consistently perform at the highest level. There are also those who continue to remain average. What separates the GREAT sales professional from the average one?
The first step is to Gain Insight about your customers. Before you can bring true value to them, you must first understand who they are. What types of services are important to them, what are their key issues, and what does value mean to them? How do your products and services benefit them? We all know that “value” means something different to each customer. Understanding is your first step to becoming a G.R.E.A.T™ salesperson. As a Field Sales Trainer years ago, I shared with trainees that the biggest mistake a sales professional makes is to assume with very little actual insight about the customer.
One of my favorite books, Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne, describes Value Innovation. “Value Innovation”makes the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers instead of focusing on beating the competition. I have learned that leading a team with that philosophy makes a positive impact.
A challenging situation I once had with an important customer demonstrates how lack of insight can inhibit business relationships. After a year of hard work building a strong customer relationship, I finally got approval for a huge product evaluation. However, one Cardiologist remained unconvinced and refused to evaluate the product. Despite my best efforts to convince him otherwise, he looked at me angrily one day and said, “Jennifer, I don’t care about how your stent is different or for that matter better. I don’t want to trial your product.” At that moment, I realized my insight of what was important to him was wrong. I needed to refocus on what Value meant to him and to learn what I needed to do to turn the situation around. In the end, he did evaluate the product and became a loyal customer.