“People rarely buy what the company thinks it’s selling.” I wish I’d said that. I hope you’ll consider the counterintuitive probability that each of your clients works with you for reasons that may not have much to do with the products that you sell.
You’re going to work with colleagues who believe that the/their/your job is about selling The 3 P’s: products, price, and programs. They’re not completely wrong. Those things are the end game but not the opening. Plus, there’s a more important “P” in your clients’ lives: “Progress.” Progress defined on their terms, not yours. The more precisely that you understand the reason that each of your clients voluntarily pull you in to their businesses the closer you get to understanding how they define value. The tricky part is that there’s not one answer. Your customers work with you for reasons that are singular to their goals. It might be the relationship they have with you, your organization’s customer service, the delivery, the IT support, training opportunities. It might be something as obvious as the proximity to a nearby branch. Once you know, however, you can customize your value proposition and use it to your advantage.
You may need to surrender a bit of selling bias. Sales reps are historically conditioned to view their clients from an organizational perspective rather than their clients’. As a new sales rep you’ll also have a trove of new resources at your disposal. Yet there will be days when it feels like your hard work is not improving your sales results. That’s frustrating. Don’t blame the clients when that happens. Don’t blame your organization. Most importantly, don’t convince yourself that there’s a “unicorn” resource out there that will solve all the problems. I’ve heard too many sales reps say “if I only had this then things would be different . . .” That type of thinking wastes your time and your organization’s money. When your clients resist your efforts please know that it has less to do with the quality of your products and more to do with whether or not your products propel your clients forward on their terms–not yours. You will have a stellar career. It will happen as soon as you understand the specific and various reasons that clients volunteer to give you their money.
Remember, you’re not selling products.. You’re selling Progress. Stay true to that ideal even when pitching boxes feels safe and secure. It only feels that way because you’re in the middle of the herd.