I have been thinking about how salespeople and others who are responsible for bringing in new business to their organisations feel when they get heartfelt thanks and feedback from their clients for a job well done.
The sort of feedback that actually tells the salesperson that they really made a difference to that client’s situation, life or business; that the client was grateful to have worked with them because they are better off with them than without them; that the client really appreciated the efforts that the salesperson made to make the most of the situation.
I know how I feel when I receive feedback like that. It is immeasurable. It is so wonderful that it spurs you to do even better. When people say ‘I am so glad I met you’ it makes it all worthwhile.
I have also been thinking about the frequency of such feedback. In B2B sales I suspect that this type of gratitude is relatively rare.
It seems to me, via the many, many salespeople I meet, that clients do not express such gratitude, even if they really feel it. It seems enough to just pay the bill and move on. In fact, if gratitude is expressed at all it is usually expressed by the salesperson, who is grateful for being able to be of service, delivering great products and service; and grateful, at the very least, to be able to achieve their sales quotas with the client’s custom.
It can often be a lonely and thankless job as a B2B salesperson. It takes a well-balanced person to be able to carry on without receiving any acknowledgement of such service and contribution; knowing they made a positive difference to their clients and their business world even if no one mentions it.
Are customers, clients – call them what you will – truly aware of the amount of work that goes into creating great outcomes in B2B sales?
The number of people and processes these salespeople need to co-ordinate and align can be immense. Research shows time and time again that the best B2B salespeople are not only excellent at selling out to clients but they are also excellent at selling back into their organisation – orchestrating internal resources is the actual term used to describe this capability. Holding in their thoughts many moving parts to the puzzle takes a lot of skill and effort with much of this work being invisible and going unnoticed by clients and internal stakeholders alike.
I wonder what would happen if clients openly expressed some form of gratitude to the salesperson beyond a polite thank you and payment of the invoice for a job well done.
I wonder how clients would behave if they were able to reflect on how much effort the salesperson and their company put into making what was delivered to them. Would they be more appreciative of receiving such support?
In B2C sales, gratitude is likely to be more on display as it is more personal, more immediate, more intimate and easier to express from the client’s perspective. Although it, too, may be infrequent, especially with a rising number of people acting and behaving with a sense of entitlement, expecting to be treated as ‘special’ no matter how they behave to the salesperson serving them.
I was reflecting the other day on just how much of what we have and use is created by total strangers, people we will never have the opportunity to thank personally. In B2B business dealings and B2C environments there are many people in the value chain who remain invisible to the client, yet we have them to be thankful for on many levels.
So as we come to the end of 2014, I thought we could take a little time out to reflect on just how many people contribute to our lives – many of whom are strangers to us. That B2B or B2C salesperson is the conduit to these many strangers and perhaps if we could show our gratitude to these salespeople, they in turn could pass it on down the line to let others know that they have indeed made a difference. It is always nice to know you count for something greater than your pay cheque or performance review.
Here is a lovely definition of gratitude that I have garnered from a lovely initiative called The Virtues Project:
Gratitude is a constant attitude of thankfulness and appreciation for life as it unfolds. Living in the moment, we are open to abundance around us and within us. We express appreciation freely. We contemplate the richness of our life. We feast on beauty. We notice small graces and are thankful for daily gifts. In life’s trials, we seek to understand, to accept, and to learn. Gratitude is the essence of genuine happiness. It is a virtue we can never have too much of. Gratitude is a continual celebration of life.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.