If you are like me you will stop every so often and realise that you sound like one of your parents. At the same time you will realise that actually, they were right – you just knew (or thought you knew) better when you were aged 9..!
It recently occurred to me that after nearly 20 years in sales and marketing roles I am starting to sound like my old sales managers who would lecture me endlessly on lead qualification, SCOTSMAN principles, ABC (always be closing), Miller Heiman and the like. At the time I knew better. I chased any lead or opportunity that came my way, with boundless energy and optimism – quite often to be proved wrong – or right as my boss would have it recorded!
Call it old age, call it wisdom, call it valuing one’s own time or maybe it is just sheer laziness, but I noticed that I am much better at qualifying leads and opportunities now. Sadly that means that those around me now suffer as I did for two decades – receiving advice on how to qualify – and having to put up with my smug ‘told you so’ attitude when it transpires that actually – ‘they’re (the prospect) just not that in to you’..!
So when did I realise that I had become my sales manager/parent?
At a client’s offices last week I sat listening to a member of staff speaking to a prospective customer on the phone. The sales person working for my client was amazing. She understood the customer’s needs, was helpful and attentive and was very proud to come off the call and announce ‘she’ll buy that’. I have to agree – I think a sale will be made, but there is every chance that our client will not benefit from that sale, and here’s why.
The prospective customer needed the product. They made it clear that they had to make a purchase in a given period, in this case 2-3 days. They had an emotional driver, the product was for an elderly parent and they had a budget – roughly in order of proposed sale price.
The sales person identified the right product for them, confirmed that it was readily available and even offered a discount.
Sounds like a match made in heaven. BUT think about it in another way. In actual fact the sales person provided all of the info about the product – its make, model and price – but didn’t close the deal there and then, with the customer on the phone. Instead she allowed the prospect to ‘walk away’ fully armed with all the information they needed to find the product online/elsewhere, and potentially cheaper too.
It’s easy to think ‘job done’ in that scenario. I would have acted the same some years ago.
So what’s changed? My somewhat jaded view would propose that I’ve lived and learnt. But I think it’s more than that. We live in an increasingly ‘noisy’ age – where customers shop around, brand loyalty can be fleeting and time is limited. So it’s more vital than ever to engage with your customers appropriately, listen to what they need and – if it’s right for both sides – close the deal. Only then is it win-win for both sides.