Selling is easy
Or is it?
I recently interviewed Marcus Cauchi for a podcast and his response to one of my questions about what a professional B2B salesperson is trying to achieve really stuck with me. I think it is worth sharing to allow those who really care about what they do to reflect on how they do it.
His response was as follows:
The first thing we need to do is put the customer at the heart of everything that we do.
And I believe that every customer, every prospect, deserves to feel safe whenever they’re engaging with a salesperson. So buyer safety is central to my philosophy. And if you want to be trusted, a buyer safety has to be paramount now. Buyer safety means that we have to have their best interests at heart. We have to put their outcome before our outcome.
If we’re going to be trusted, we need to be rigorously authentic. That means we always tell the truth. You’re known by the promises you keep, not the ones you make. You’re known by your actions, not your words.
We need to be vulnerable. That means we need to admit when we don’t know the answer when we are not the right provider even vulnerable to the point where we are willing to recommend our closest and most vicious competitor, because they would serve the customer better.
We must always be ready to tell the truth. We cannot lie in any way, shape or form. There is no room for lying ever to a customer, including withholding information and being economical with the truth. Because whilst you can be forgiven, the lie can never be forgotten.
You need to be able to enter into constructive conflict. That does not mean that you just pick a fight for the sake of it. It has to come from a position of positive intent. If you see your customer or your prospect is going to make a bad decision, then they must you must confront it.
You must tell them the truth. And. In order to do that, you have to have mutual respect and equal business stature. And that’s something that you have to earn and that comes through preparation, planning, research. Never turn up unprepared. You need to make time for rehearsal. And I fundamentally believe that you should have three minutes of preparation for every minute you’re going to be speaking to your customer. Now that means that you need to learn how to say no.
You need to segment your territory. You need to focus on those who you are most likely to be able to help and turn up with a service mentality.
You are there to serve sales as a service profession. Now, service does not mean being servile or going into servitude. Remember equal business stature, but different roles, all focused on delivering the outcome that a customer will be renting from you over time.
And if you are not relevant to them, then they will buy the service from someone else you need to communicate with absolute clarity. Ambiguity is the mother of all. FUBARs, it’s the mother of mismatched expectations and disappointment. So if there is any lack of clarity, it is your responsibility as a seller. To make sure that before you finish your conversation, both sides are clear on what both sides mean precisely, and that you are in lockstep.
You need to deliver value at every touch. You do not phone up and say ‘Hi, I’m just calling to check up on how things are going’. Bring value do not be one of those interruptions to their day that causes them to think that you’re a clown. Build strong, sustainable agreements all the way throughout every conversation. Get down and dirty and do difficult work together.
You should encourage your customer to step out of the goal so that it’s you and them working together as partners. That ultimately is what we’re trying to be, not the ‘trusted advisor’ but the trusted partner and that all of that means that you will have trust of the buyer because they will feel safe.
Quite an answer, and one I agree with 100%
And I’m not the only one. An increasing number of sales professionals are coming to together in the movement that is Sales: A Force For Good (www.saffg.com)
Sales is a fantastic profession. It can give you choices and freedom that few other careers can offer. Our job is to help other people be successful.
We are our customers’ growth partners.
We help them get the needs met and deliver the outcomes they need for their business, their organisation to make progress.
We help the individuals we engage with become the hero of their own story.
However sales seems to have taken a wrong turn. It has become disappointingly transactional, the focus of many is simply on short term attainment of quota, keeping down jobs and trying to avoid burnout.
This growing group is committed to taking back our beloved profession and make it an aspirational career choice. The goal is to develop the tools, practices, and conditions to prove that there is a better more profitable way based on a strong values and rigorous authenticity where we put the customer at the heart of everything.
Do you care?
Is this something you want to be a part of?
Fred Copestake is founder of Brindis, a sales training consultancy.
Over the last 22 years he has travelled round the world 14 times visiting 36 countries to work with over 10,000 salespeople.
His book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills’ looks at the evolving world of sales and sets out what salespeople need to do to refine their approach. It explores how to take things to the next level through understanding partnering intelligence and using the innovative VALUE Framework.