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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Why we’re all in “Sales”

Who is responsible for sales in your organisation?

“It’s the Sales Team.” “No, the Customer Service Group”. “Isn’t it Marketing?” “I know! I know this one! It’s the staff in the Retail outlets, right?!”

I’d offer (somewhat glibly perhaps) that a suitable answer is "we're all in sales, all the time". Certainly, that expresses a certain mind-set for developing positive customer relationships, engaging with new ideas and having a willingness to open up to new opportunities. I would encourage everyone to aspire to build an attitude of “we’re all in sales” into their work practices, regardless of whether or not their formal role or job description includes “sales”.

However, maybe it isn't too helpful at a practical level, especially for folks who might not have much sales experience, or who aren’t naturally blessed with an outgoing persona. So here are a few simple thoughts on what “we’re all in sales” really means to me.

Selling is typically a team activity. Across the team, you need to identify who will play which roles; the Introducer, the Commercial Lead, the Subject Matter Expert etc. (If you're a solo operator, you've got to get good at playing all the roles!) I tend to never put a job title on my business cards - this allows me the freedom to be a chameleon and present myself to the client in whatever capacity is most helpful.  

When the customer asks “who are you?”, then your mental response aught to be “who do you want me to be?” (Though you might not actually say it out loud to the customer!) Don't be untruthful, though - you'll get found out very quickly. Honesty and integrity will get you a lot, lot further than snake-oil.

It is also my view that selling products (and indeed information) is actually very similar to selling services. You'll be most successful if you show that you can really understand the client's needs and offer a genuine solution. Selling on the basis of product features (or how good your team's skills are, if you're in services) is the best way to lose in the long run.

And please - don't sell on features! The worst thing you can do is try to tell the customer why your "thing" (or service, or resources, or whatever) is better than everyone else's.  

You might also find my Blog article fromMay 2012 of interest, which discusses the tests that I apply to make sure that your messaging is hitting the mark.

Oh! One more thing - learn to tell stories! (But maybe that's another story - and a likely topic for another blog post sometime…)

Happy selling!

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