When I run my how to sell to a CIO workshop I often get asked who was the best salesman I worked with and why were they so good?
This is a fairly simple question for me to answer because one person stands out. For the purposes of this blog I will call her Connie. Connie represented an incumbent supplier and what made Connie stand out is two things, firstly, occasionally she came to us with an idea of her firm’s current thinking on a particular issue and worked hard to make it relevant to us. I understood that she was seeking to sell me more things but I appreciated it because she had thought about what the meant for us. Second, and most importantly she listened and followed through on our conversations. This seems really basic and surely every salesman does this right? No they don’t, not the way Connie did. If I gave Connie feedback on a proposal or an idea we were working through (e.g. I like this, please change that, I can’t sell that but I can sell this …. etc.) I knew that she would take that away and bring me back what I had asked for.
In my experience this is very unusual. Most sales teams bowl in, bold as brass, and tell you about themselves how wonderful they and their product are with no idea if that’s what you need. That wouldn’t be so bad except if by chance they happen to have something interesting often they then fail to follow through or will not make changes to their proposal to allow you to buy their product/service.
This is how most sales teams operate. Is it any wonder they are struggling to gain market share? Perhaps a different approach may help, perhaps Connie’s approach might help. That is, where you come knowing a little about your C suite customer and ready to engage and learn. Think of it as being like wooing your future partner at the start of your blossoming romance. If you took this mind-set then you would make sure you “bought relevant gifts” and you would certainly follow through on their requests.