In my conversations with salespeople and business owners there is one recurring theme, “How can I get more business for less effort?”
What they are really looking for is the magic elixir which will make prospects come to their door and buy without them needing to make any effort.
The ‘Easy Rider’ road
In 2012 more people went to seminars on business building, sales and wealth creation than ever before. Despite this:
- Less than 4% of people have goals they can remember
- Less than 1% of people actually follow their plan to achieve these goals
- Most people reach their mid-life and ask “How did I get here?” and are not satisfied with the answer, and
- At the end of 2010 there are fewer people in the upper and middle wealth (not income) bracket (proportionately) than ever before.
It seems there is a basic desire by most people to make significant amounts of money. This drives what I call the ‘Easy Rider’ industry: seminars, books, videos and the like promising to reveal ‘secrets’ on how to make huge returns for just a few dollars investment.
All the technology in the world, however, cannot change the simple fact human beings are social animals.
Every time a decision is made about where to go to share a meal, a car to buy, who to marry, where to go on holidays, it is made, in the end, by two or more human beings sitting down and agreeing to move forward together.
It is the same in business. The people you are dealing with may be in business themselves or be employed by someone; however, they are still a human being.
They engage you to deliver a business result because they trust you to deliver on your word – and this is because of the trust they have in the relationship they have with you. Real commercial relationships are honest, sincere, of value and meaning to all parties.
Relationships are built as a result of investing time and energy. Despite this I find it staggering we constantly look for shortcuts around this basic human need.
Here are two examples of sales I observed.
I was consulting to a mid-sized manufacturing organization which decided to reconsider their communication needs. They decided to move a small section of their mobile telephone fleet to a new supplier to trial a potential move.
This prompted a deluge of calls over a few weeks. According to the CEO, they took nearly 100 calls about ‘special deals’, packages, new technology – even a bicycle courier company called them up to determine what was going on!
In this example, one company made a small initial sale. Almost immediately the whole flock arrives trying to win the business, or just pick up a few crumbs.
With more competition than ever, even the smallest ‘deals’ are quickly found out about and broadcast in the industry. The consequence to this mentality is what I call ‘seagull’ sales.
A global manufacturing company, based in the USA, outsourced a small software development job to an Australian company. They delivered the project and met the projects expected outcomes. The salesperson made a call to the business process owner (not in IT) and asked a simple question – “Did the project deliver the expected business outcomes?”
The process owner was so surprised to hear this question. His experience was IT departments and software development companies made statements like, “We delivered the project on time and on budget.”
The conversation developed and a number of other key areas of the business were identified where a similar solution could be applied.
Over the next few years this business process owner kept coming back to the same salesperson to talk about his business problems.
Even in the face of pressure from their internal IT department, they continued to buy tens of millions of dollars of services from this Australian company to deliver global services.
Successful businesses, salespeople and investors know the value of making an investment in relationships, delivering value to these relationships and maintaining the integrity of those relationships.
So is there a sales elixir?
Yes. The sales elixir is investing serious time and effort into relationships and then linking that relationship to value.
For every piece of business awarded, someone has made a decision they can trust their future, and the future of their company, to the salesperson they are dealing with.
Most importantly, they can only make this decision if they have met you, like you and believe you will deliver the expected business outcomes.
Today’s question and action
How well do you know your clients? With just a little effort you can start to build a serious business by building trust and establishing a relationship where they call and discuss their business with you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Which of my clients could develop into a serious customer?
- Who do I need to establish relationships with to make this happen?
- What are the individual goals and needs of these people?
- Am I helping them achieve their goals?
- Would the depth of our relationship allow them to be proud when you achieved your goals as well?
For all those who are reading this week’s sales tip that want a quickie fix – I am sorry – the only answer to long-term success is long-term investment in helping others to succeed.