Sandy's workshop was really beneficial in helping me reach clarity on a way that the Chamber could listen to what our members want, and deliver that in a way which would demonstrate value & benefit. And so the DACC123 Member Promise was born - thanks Sandy
Are you Ubuntu?
What is Ubuntu?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu sums up the African philosophy of Ubuntu, like this:
"A person is a person through other persons."
Ubuntu made me think differently about our role as salespeople.
If you’re a person with Ubuntu,
“Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours."”
Without others, there’s no job for us. We need our customers, arguably, more than they need us. We’re inextricably bound together and we depend on them for our survival.
How then, do I convince my customers to bother seeing me, at all?
Let alone, to choose me over one of my bright-eyed competitors?
This is the problem every salesperson has to solve.
How to Convince Your Customers to Choose You
We talk about having to ‘add value’ to the customer’s business (or life). To do this, we need to find out what makes them tick. What problems are they dealing with? What battles are they fighting? Which particular worries are keeping them awake at night?
Firstly, we have to understand our customers as people. To empathise with their problems, to care about their struggles and to be invested in their success.
Only then, can we bring something to the table that matters to them. By having real conversations – not just talking but listening intently to the customers - we can we build mutually beneficial relationships. Here, there’s potential for us salespeople to do great things.
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
What Zane Wants
For many years I sold frozen food to wholesalers all around the country. One of my favourite customers was a man called Zane, who ran a small wholesaler’s in Glasgow. I met him just after he’d been promoted from salesman to general manager.
But, suddenly - and by his own good fortune - he was without a salesman. And so, Zane, who had no recruitment training whatsoever, was tasked with finding a replacement as quickly as possible. I offered to spend a couple of sessions with Zane to help him through the process. He picked things up quickly and as a result, he found his replacement in two weeks.
Yes, I set aside some time for Zane but it was nothing I hadn’t implemented a thousand times before.
It’s not always difficult or testing to help somebody out. But that doesn’t mean the tools you give them aren’t valuable. You already possess a set of specialist skills that could help a customer transform their business. I always try to remember this when I’m building customer relationships.
Know What They Want But Stock What They Need
The biggest limiting factor for my customers was cold storage space. As a result, buyers like Zane were very careful about which products they selected and bought.
It was a typical, dreich and dreary Tuesday afternoon when I visited Zane with a new product in tow. It was a niche product destined for a specific customer but Zane was hampered by his usual curiosity.
“I’m going to show you a new product -,” I said to him after we’d agreed on our usual sales for the day.
“- it’s something I’m trialling with another supplier but I don’t think it’s right for you. It’s aimed at business sectors you don’t have many sales in.”
You might suspect an underhand sales tactic. But having got to know him, I knew that there was no distracting Zane once something had aroused his suspicion. I’d also been working with him for a while and I wanted to help him grow his business over the next year - not sell him a product that wouldn’t work for his business.
I figured honesty was the best policy, here.
The ambitious young manager disagreed with me almost right away.
What followed was a strange conversation, with Zane trying to convince me that this product would fly off his shelves and me insisting that it couldn’t possibly work.
I’d become the customer and Zane the salesman!
In the end, he made the investment against my advice. He did manage to sell some of the product but not in any great quantities.
You win some, I win some
As a salesman, I never want to see my customers make a loss.
“A person is a person through other persons.”
Bringing my customers the right products is how I help them become more profitable. And consequently, how I’m kept in a job.
But looking back, this hiccup was a blessing in disguise.
The Proof is in the Purchase: Reaching a New Level of Trust
A year later, I called on Zane with my sales director.
After presenting a new product, my impatient boss butted in and asked -
“Well, are you going to buy it then?”
“I don’t know,” Zane replied, casually, “if the product is right for us Sandy will send me a pallet and we’ll present it to the sales team. And go from there.”
Zane and I had reached that rare level of trust between a salesperson and customer.
One of the ‘secrets’ to successful selling is to make the move from being ‘just another sales-guy’ to becoming a trusted advisor.
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
There’s that quote from Zig, again. But is it still relevant?
Today, we’re more likely to hear chants like,
“It’s not what you sell anymore. It’s how you sell, that matters.”
How to Help Your Customers Get What They Want
Thanks to the global-shrinking powers of the World Wide Web, we can reach more potential customers than ever before. But this also brings international competition to our doorsteps. And we’re seeing a proliferation of competitors in all fields.
It’s almost impossible to achieve a genuinely ‘unique’ selling point (USP) for a product or service. The world no longer needs salespeople like us to provide information. Instead, we’re required to bring something more to the customer relationship.
Otherwise, why would a customer give you their time?
This brings us back to my point: What sets you apart from the next suit and tie?
But like every economic evolution, it’s about adapting to our new conditions. Sales is not dead. But we do have to find new ways to win over our customers that transcend the products we sell.
Here are a few ways you can add value to your customer relationships:
1. Become a source of insight
Providing insights that will be useful to your customers (you might even become a resource investigator) shows that you’re invested in their business. And being useful is the first step to becoming indispensable. You’ll only become a more effective salesperson, too. It’s a win-win.
2. Start sharing your network
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Putting your clients in touch with other contacts in your network is a great way to offer professional support. More often than not, a problem can be solved by finding the right person for the job.
3. Keep up with industry trends (and interests)
Send your customers relevant snippets from online articles and news items that will interest them. Generally, I’m talking about professional interests. But if one of your customers has a fanatical interest in model-trains, for example, let them know when you see that big exhibition is coming to their area. You can use Google’s dedicated ‘News’ search feature to set up industry-specific alerts to make this process more efficient.
4. Follow the competition
Following industry competitors on social media is another low-investment tactic for monitoring trends and potential areas for growth.
5. Make your customers look good (yes, really)
It’s about more than making their job easier. If there’s something I can do to shine a favourable light on my client, in the eyes of their own customers or their boss, I’ll always try to help them out. We all appreciate a pat-on-the-back when it’s due.
Help your customers get what they want and eventually you’ll no longer be perceived as a salesperson but as a trusted advisor.
“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Does your sales team lack Ubuntu? I won't claim to have the insight of Archbishop Desmond. But my sales training workshops will give your team the knowledge and the skills they need to earn customer loyalty. At Sales Coach Scot, our skills-based coaching style delivers consistent and reliable results. To book your tailored sales training session, call Sandy on 07725 472243 for a chat.