My son’s soccer coach used to yell “You’re Bunching Up!” throughout most games. Instinctively, the kids would all move in the same direction, chasing the ball, not thinking about where it is in relation to the goal. Next thing you know, they were all in bunched up the same spot, and they were basically paralyzed. The competition would spread out across the field and execute a great passing game. Meanwhile my son’s team would be pretty much all be congregated around where the ball used to be, leaving no one to guard the goal. He shoots, he scores! Low fives all around team “B.” You’re bunching up!
OK. Game on. You’ve read all the books on sales and marketing. Now you know what everyone else does. Cool. Now what? You’re bunching up! Spread out man. Find out what everybody else DOESN’T know. I think David A Brock said it well; when I was starting out in sales he said to me: “You can read everything there is to know about sales and marketing, but eventually you just need to go out there and get your teeth kicked in. That’s how you learn.”
Here are 5 powerful lessons I’ve learned this week from getting my teeth kicked in with my hard working B2B marketplace. These people are amazing. Anybody can use these ideas, no matter where they are in business but sales and marketing colleagues – you gotta know this is what customers are telling me is going on in their corner of the world and it’s helping a lot:
There are some things people will always spend money on, even if they don’t have any.
Some people say that their business is in trouble because nobody’s buying. It’s the economy I tell ya! The fact is that many businesses thrive in a downturn economy. Why? Because some people refuse to bunch up and look for things right where they always used to be. As the world changes, businesses have to change too, or else someone else gets possession of the ball and you’re done. The music industry is a great example of this. Since the mid 2000’s, album sales have continued to drop They dropped 12.8% last year. Meanwhile, personal computer manufacturer Apple celebrated it’s 10 Billionth song sold in 2010. Same money.. different pockets. Find out what people are buying and sell that. Hint: I’m not talking about products and services. Nobody cares about your products and services. I’m talking about ideas, principles, movements. Get on the same wavelength with your best customers. They will listen to you and they will find it in their budget.
Sales is a dance. Remember the mini skirt rule.
Yesterday I met with a prospect and he paid me the highest compliment. He said: “Sales is a dance. I got my moves, you’ve got yours. I hear from dozens of you guys every day about marketing, but until now I never seriously considered it. You’ve really given me something to think about here Don!” In retrospect, it’s because I used the mini skirt rule in our discussion: A lot of content marketing concepts are some pretty heavy stuff for small business owners. There’s way too much solutioning going on. “You guys” all sound the same. It’s just more noise. Use the mini skirt rule: make sure that whenever you have to explain anything, it is long enough to be appropriate, but short enough to keep it interesting.
You are just like everyone else until you prove otherwise.
My customers get dozens of calls from “You guys” every day. It’s human nature for them to shut us down. Why? Because they have learned that there is little or no value in talking with most sales people! It’s on us to change their minds about that, and we only get a few seconds to do so. What are you going to say to prove you are not like the dozen other yabos who tried to waste your customer’s time today? Oh, once in a while you’ll run into somebody who will give you a chance no matter what kind of blather you try and put them to sleep with. If you are ok with selling to that 1% of the population, then go with God, I wish you luck. Meanwhile, if you want to grab more business, you will have to come up with something to say that will capture their attention really quick and keep it. You constantly need to engage your customer and prove why you deserve to be listened to.
It’s hard to get sales when nobody’s knows about you.
credit: David Brier
It’s even harder when you’re selling something everybody’s already got. I found this out the hard way. Like a dolt, I’d been telling people: “We have XYZ. Can we meet to discuss?” “Oh. We already have that.” They would say. and I was shut down! After a while I figured out that the less I say about what I have, the longer the conversation gets and the better my chances of finding a fit. Instead, I ask about what they have, what they do with it, how that’s working, what they’re competition is doing, what might be missing and so forth. Eventually most people will ask what we have, but if I take the time first to find out what might actually interest my customer, it’s a lot less likely that I will be trying to talk to them about something they already have. If I ask great questions and established a peer level discussion like this, then I can talk about what so and so is doing with it, how it’s working for them, why they like about it, and ask more questions about people they know and what they do. Soon enough, it’s their idea, not mine.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good question is worth 10 thousand.
Sales is an asking profession. There was a time when sales people were taught that their primary function was to educate the customer. Then the internet changed that forever. Oh, customers still need educating, but the use of the internet has made it so that sellers are entering the buying cycle much later on than ever before, and they are having to do a lot of uneducating before they can re-educate customers. If you join a conversation after 40% of it is complete, you’ve got some catching up to do. Asking great questions has become more important than painting great pictures. I fancy myself a pretty good story teller; painting word pictures for customers, but I’ve seen even more success with using questions that lead customers to see their needs, their opportunities, and what to do about them. Get good at this and then they will paint you a picture: you heading to the bank with a wheelbarrow full of money.
Spread out. Go where no one else is going. Ask great questions. Start with a Yes. See where that takes you… then come back here and let’s talk about it!
Oh yes, and don’t forget to check out my new services page. Who you gonna call? Me I hope. Let’s get em’!