November 16, 2012

Time to Give Thanks for so Much—Including our Business!

My favorite holiday is approaching. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, family, friends, love, celebration, tradition—and no presents!

I love that we have an official day each year to count our blessings, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if gratitude was a daily attitude?

As a salesperson and trainer, for example, I am grateful to be doing work I love and sharing my knowledge and experience with my peers. I’m grateful that I help my clients solve problems and achieve their goals—except for Thursdays. You see, my “sacred space” for prospecting is Thursday morning. That’s when I have time carved into my calendar exclusively for the purpose of reaching out to potential new clients. I love what I do, but on Thursday morning… I grumble and stall and procrastinate and reach for the snooze alarm one more time and…

Well, you get the idea.

Prospecting is painful and I know why it’s so hard for me to do. When I’m reaching out to people who do not know me, I’m not Sharon who does her best for her clients. I’m automatically in the sales “penalty” box. The stereotype of salespeople that permeates our collective thinking includes words like “pushy,” “self-interested,” “manipulative,” “dishonest,” “untrustworthy.”

Those stereotypes makes the people I’m calling quick to reject me. I get 15 seconds or less to differentiate myself from the dozens of other calls they get each week from people hoping to sell them something. It doesn’t matter whether my services are exactly what could help them achieve their goal if I can’t get out of that penalty box fast enough to have a conversation with them, person to person, that gets their attention.

To do that, I have to open with a question that is likely to be in line with their concerns. Since I call on sales executives, my openings include questions about growing market share, decreasing discounting, increasing forecast accuracy, and other areas of concern to any manager charged with increasing sales. Unless they have some reason to think I understand their concerns and may be able to help, why would they take time from their crazy-busy day to talk with a stranger?

No matter what product or service you sell, can you put yourself in the head of your ideal customer and understand what motivates them?

How are they measured? What constitutes success?

If you can’t, you are not likely to get their interest in the few seconds they give you. It’s not just about making the effort, although that is step number one. One of the core concepts of CustomerCentric Selling teaches “it’s not where you show up but what you say when you get there.” This determines whether you’ll be successful in finding alignment with your prospect.

In the meantime, one of the things I’m grateful for this year is that Thanksgiving Day falls on a Thursday, giving me an excellent excuse for putting off my prospecting until next week.

May your holiday be filled with happiness.


Ed: Brianna B.


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