This is one of the biggest “aha moments” I ever had when learning to be salesperson, which I got from a fantastic book called: Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa.
“In sales, you and the customer want the very same thing: the Exact Right Solution.”
Let me unpack this for you…
If you are talking to a potential customer, than they have already given you a buying signal; they are giving you some of their time, which means there is at least some level of interest in your product or service. So you both know what you are there for, a potential sale. The goal then is to make sure that you both get what you want out of the transaction, they get a reasonable price on a product or service that they need and you make a reasonable profit. This is the only possible outcome for successful transaction, the Exact Right Solution.
- Sell them something too expensive and they find out that your price was high, you lose the customer.
- Sell them something too cheap and you lose money on the deal, your company goes out of business.
- Sell them the wrong product that will not actually meet their needs, but makes you a nice commission, you lose the customer.
- Sell them the right product and deliver it late, you lose the customer.
- Sell them the right product and it does not work, and you fail to follow-up and get it fixed quickly, you lose the customer.
- Sell them the right product but promise them too many additional services, you lose money on the deal, your company goes out of business.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea, unless both you and the customer get exactly what is right for both of you, you have not made a successful sale.
That means that it is not you against the customer, it is the two of you working together as a team to develop the Exact Right Solution. To me, this takes away the sometimes adversarial relationship between buyer and seller. I remember early in my career that every time I went on a sales call I felt like I was trying to “win the sale.” The truth of the matter is I should have been trying to win the trust of my customer by giving them exactly what they wanted, that also aligned perfectly with what I wanted, so that we could build a strong positive relationship and I could be seen as a partner and trusted advisor who would always do what was in their best interest, as long as it was also in my best interest. The classic Win-Win agreement.
Now that I understand this, sales is so much more fun. I’m not there to “win” anything, I’m there to help us much as I can and work jointly with my customer to develop solutions that makes everybody happy so that we look forward to doing more business together in the future.
To me, that is the way a professional salesperson approaches the sales process.
I have just returned from three weeks on the road, including 10 days on a speaking tour across Poland as a guest of the United States Consulate General in Krakow. I had a lot of time on airplanes and read several books but there are two that I would especially like to recommend.
The first is called “BOOKSMART – hundreds of real-world lessons for success and happiness,” by my friend Frank Sonnenberg. This is an absolutely fantastic book of wisdom and sage advice that is presented in a very user-friendly way, with lots of lists of things to think about and apply. The book covers numerous topics around business, family, success, financial health, marriage and other critical issues. The chapters are short but powerful. I have already reread this book twice and have applied several of the ideas to my business and life. This is one of those books I plan to come back to often as a reminder of what I should be focusing on and how to build a happy, joyful and highly successful life. This book would be a wonderful Christmas present for anyone you know that enjoy books on self-improvement or business improvement.
The other book I’d like to recommend to you is called, “The Leaders Mindset – how to win in the age of disruption,” by Terence Mauri. In this book Terence describes three major leadership mindsets:
- Think Big Mindset (Future Shaper)
- Act Bold Mindset (Risk Taker)
- Learn Fast Mindset (Knowledge Seeker)
He then goes on to describe how to integrate all three of these mindsets in order to be an effective and successful leader. I underlined a lot of this book, and I’ve recommended it to several of my clients. It’s a good, solid book that will help you take a new look at how you lead in your organization. One of the reasons I love this book so much, is that it aligned very strongly with what I have been studying for years about great leaders and great organizations. It was reassuring to read such focused and detailed ideas and descriptions that match so closely with my strongly held beliefs about what makes a real leader. If you are interested in a book that will help you examine the way you think about leadership and the actions you take as a leader, you will definitely enjoy this book.
I have just a little bit of downtime around the Christmas holidays, so I will have a few more books to recommend at the start of the new year. If you have recently read a great business or self-help book, please comment on it here so that my followers and I can pick it up and learn from your recommendations.
I hope you find these books of great value – take good care – John
This is an excerpt from a new book I am working on about how to generate more high quality referrals.
Several years ago I was brought in to help a computer training company increase their sales. The sales team were missing their numbers badly and the business was in serious trouble. When I got there I found out that many of the salespeople were uncomfortable because the price for their training program was nearly $40,000, which was a very high price point for the potential customers they were talking to. Each of the salespeople had a quota and there was a large white board in the sales office tracking exactly how much money each person had brought in. The sales were basically being managed as a numbers game.
To understand the situation better I asked a few questions.
What was the graduation rate for people who entered the course? Which I found out was above 90%. What was the placement rate for students who had graduated from their computer training? I found out was above 90%. What was the average salary of someone who graduated and got one of these jobs? About $80,000 a year. For the people they were talking to, what was their current average salary? Which I found out was about $30-$40,000, hence the reason a $40,000 training program was extremely expensive for them.
I brought the sales team together to talk with them. I explained to them that when someone bought one of these programs and invested $40,000, there was a 90% chance they would graduate and be a certified computer technician and a 90% chance that they would get an awesome job at a very high salary that would completely change their lives and the lives of their families. They would finally have a good paying job in a growing industry where they could build a solid career and continue to improve their income. I told the sales team to stop worrying about the quota and start worrying about how many people they could help, how many lives they could change. I told them not to be greedy about money, but to be incredibly greedy about how many people they could help. Once they were able to make the mental shift from making sales – to changing people’s lives – the sales numbers went through the roof.
It is the exact same thing for asking for referrals. It is not about new clients, new revenue, more profits for you and your business – it’s about how many more people can you help. There’s an old saying from Zig Ziglar that I love: “If you just help enough other people get what they need you’ll get everything you need.” This is the heart of generating lots and lots of quality referrals – be fanatic about getting as many referrals as you possibly can, so that you can help as many people as you possibly can. Look at it that way and you will do very well.
If you want to make a really great living as a professional speaker, I can absolutely help you!
I have been an extremely successful professional speaker for more than 20 years, doing upwards of 70 speeches a year at a rate of $20,000 or more per speech.
As I look back of the last two decades in this profession I cannot possibly count the number of times that people have told me, “I’d really love to do what you do for a living, I’ve always wanted to be a speaker.” Rather than try to explain it over and over again, I created a very brief, focused and honest e-book about exactly what it truly takes to build a six or seven-figure professional speaking or corporate training business. The e-book only costs $8.50 because I’m not trying to make a ton of money on it, I’m trying to help a bunch of people get on the right track to building a successful speaking business.
Take a quick look at the 45-second video below to see if this e-book might be of value to you in your effort to become a professional speaker.
I was just asked by the folks at the Eventbrite, a tool for events I use often, if I would offer some suggestions for how to be more successful when networking at a conference. You’ll see the great infographic they created below, but I’d like to emphasize a few of my main ideas on this topic.
- It is NOT about what the people at the conference can do for you, it’s about what you can do for them in order to earn the right to have a real business relationship.
- Be a connector, imagine the conference as a giant party where you are the host and it is your job to make sure that all of the guests have a great time and meet lots of interesting people. So focus being a superb connector of cool people, they will appreciate your efforts a great deal and in turn will introduce you to their cool colleagues.
- When you meet someone, ask about their business, then ask them what are two or three of the big challenges they are facing that they would love to have help with, then do everything you can to connect them with someone that can assist them. There might be a chance that they will mention something that you can help them with, but the goal here is just offer assistance, not try to get a new client right away.
- Follow up soon after the conference, not to ask for business, but to say how wonderful it was to meet them and then try to offer more value. Connect with them on social media, connect them with someone you know that you think they’d like to meet, recommend a great book on a topic they are interested in, send them a fantastic article or a link to a great blog – and then send them something else of value every month or so. And then, every now and then, send them something about your company, products or services – not something super salesy — it has to be something interesting and of real value to them. If they are a great potential customer they will eventually reach back out to you and ask more about your business and how you can help them.
Here are a few more suggestions from the folks at Eventbrite and me…
A very good friend of mine, Kendall Langston, is teaching an MBA class next week at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand on the topic of, “Consultant of the Future” and asked me what I thought were the necessary elements to be a successful business consultant. Here is the quick list I came up with off the top of my head…
- Global mindset
- Insanely competent
- Absolutely superb communicator
- Extremely curious
- Understands their customer’s business and their customer’s customers
- Strong business acumen
- Voracious reader
- Understands their customer’s industry
- Understands the consulting industry
- Has a strategic mindset
- Studies the impact of technology
- Well-networked with other thought leaders
- Has proprietary research/processes
- Focused – works in a narrow niche area
- Has strong sales skills – to sell their consulting services
- Has a broad toolkit of best practices and methodologies
- Has superb follow-up and customer service
- Very, very strong work ethic
- Passionate about being a consultant
- Can deliver the required results / ROI
- Has long-term relationships with their clients
- Is respected and has a strong reputation in the consulting industry
- Innovative/creative thinker – critical thinker
- Nice person – 100% ethical, enjoyable to be around, humble
- Works well with others – good team player
Did I miss anything?