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Servant Sales

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Efficient selling meets the new world order

I grew up like most of us did. I learned that there is essentially nothing new under the sun when it comes to human relations. We relabel it; we package old ideas and sell them as new. People are people after all; right? And, so I believed for almost all of my adult life. I listened to a new book over the last few weeks that changed my perspective in a couple of important ways. The book is “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. This is easily the most complex sales book I have ever read/listened to. Many thoughts, many examples, many conclusions, all carefully laid out for you to understand and implement. Somewhere between the old prospect, qualify, interact and close methodology and Pink’s version of a Brave New World is where I fall right now (subject to change) and I wanted to share some of his key concepts that I took away on first listen.

  • The information revolution, and particularly social media, have made a profound change in both consumer and business to business selling by empowering your customer with knowledge, advice and alternatives never before available so easily. From technocrats to the 80 year old granny at home, all have access to the world; and they are doing so frequently.

 

  • An entirely different skill set has to be added to your repertoire to meet the needs/demands of younger customers and savvy older people. People must still be educated, but they cannot be forced or tricked. It’s no longer about control and much more about the narrative.

  • The ability of people today to simply vanish off the face of the earth has reached a new zenith. All of us now have the ability to hide behind a massive plateau of technology such as caller ID, Email, IM and virtual offices that make it nearly impossible to force an unwanted contact.

  • A lack of personal investment by too many in the game. Let’s face it, it is a frenzied world and relationships are suffering. A study I read about a year ago said that not only have business relationships become somewhat tattered, but it’s carrying over even to personal relationships. Can you recall a time you let a call from a spouse or child go to voice mail because you could instantly see who was calling? Depersonalization would seem to be the opposite of what you might expect with an assumed touchy feeling world that we are told we are morphing to; but it may not be true. Technology takes no prisoners!

  • Speaking of technology…we as a society have not come to grips with the dehumanizing effects of constant electronic interruptions. People are keeping their computers and mobile devices on 24x7, frequently finding it impossible not to react to the dings and tones of their devices even in the middle of the night. Not only do we lose focus and waste time resyncing to our task at hand but we also have begun losing an appreciation for priority and cavity in the process. In essence, we are becoming rude. You see examples of this in ever increasing amount of “road rage” ending in violent encounters.

  • For worried and frustrated sales people (called Movers in this book, life sometimes looks like some kind of trap that defines our daily existence. The one essential truth is that all opportunities are not created equal for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is timing. Timing is a fact of life and often we cannot make headway until the stars line up.

In a perfect world, both buyers and sellers would like to see an efficient process whereby each party serves the interest of the other in the most productive manner. Naturally buyers and sellers see things a bit different! The major takeaway and the title to this blog is what I am going to adopt as my personal mantra. “Servant Sales” takes my belief that we all work for the customer, one important step further. Servant Selling and its first cousin Servant Leadership go even further. I have always believed that people buy because they believe that you the seller, have superior knowledge and are in the best position to guide them. In essence, they buy because they trust your judgement. With these two concepts added, we accept that not only is the prospect our customer, but it has become our duty to always provide him with the best knowledge we can and to always be truthful, even when it hurts. All of us have viewed umpteen thousand ads from Progressive Insurance hawking their insurance rates and those of their competitors. That is the epitome of what I am addressing. Find a way to stay meaningfully connected to your prospect. It is beyond the scope of today’s blog to tackle that major aspect of the problem. We’ll do that next time. When the timing is right and you are still in the picture, you are more likely to get your shot at the actual moment of decision. Let’s all work on providing the highest level of service to our market. Leave your prospect thinking what a great partner you are! Good Selling!

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