Did you ever tell a white lie and then someone asked enough questions that the little white lie turned into an entire winding tale? Or catch a toddler with chocolate all of their face and they say with confidence I didn’t eat the last cookie?
Sometimes we put our sales and marketing people in the same spot within our companies as that toddler. Sales people want to have great ideas and stories to talk about. They want to build relationships and talk about mutual things of interest. People matter in the sales equation. Building Business Relationships That Last is where it is at.
Once a month a local copier sales person calls me and leaves me the exact same message every single time. I can set my watch by the call. It never varies. It never changes. Even when I try to return the call I get a pitch about document management. Never once did I say I was interested in hearing about the product. There is no attempt to learn one thing about me or my company. I don’t know the name of their company. Never have. And I certainly am never given a chance to decide if I even want a relationship with this person, this product and this no name company.
Every Monday morning the phone rings for me and the calls says, Mr. Burkhead I am calling my best clients with an inside line on a unique stock play, or some gobbledygook like that. First, it might help if you get my name right. And excuse me, when did I become a client? Who are you? And when I hang up, what do they do? They call back, often forgetting they had even called me in the first place! Like déjà vu.
We want our sales people to talk about our companies. Funny thing is, you have to be a great company to tell a great story. If you do not have a great culture it is hard to talk about greatness. I am not saying that your business must be perfect to share a great story, however, it better be customer centered. Without that there is very little customer value. And that lack of value shows up.
Which is why sales people prefer to talk about products. They have spec sheets, features & benefits and technical language to share. They can show demonstration or give you samples. Sales people love to give you a free trial or a lifetime guarantee… It is so much easier to talk about the product than take the time to ask about the customer. Hi, want to buy some software? Or as I like to say, “Do you want to buy a duck?” It all sounds exactly alike to me, like all sales people are sent to the same sales class on how to pitch our wares!
So I say, give your sales people something different to talk about. Work on being a great company. Work on being Outside-In in your actions. Customers like customer centered because it is about them! Teach them a process to build and track meaningful relationships in your targets. There is a science here. But most importantly, these things will help you avoid the dreaded product dump…
Mr. Burkhead do you want to buy a duck today?