Rebirth of a Salesman (and SalesWoman)
One out of every nine American workers works in sales- according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012. So every day more than 15 million people earn their keep by trying to convince someone else to make a purchase.
Consider: The United States manufacturing economy, still the largest in the world, cranks out nearly $2 trillion worth of goods each year. But the United States has far more salespeople than factory workers. In fact America's sales force outnumbers the entire federal workforce by more than 5 to 1. There is still 3 times more U.S. private sector employees as salespeople than all 50 state governments combined employ people.
Next consider that the other 8 out of 9 people are involved in the rise of Non-sales selling- "moving" others and having an influence. Teachers moving students to learn something, health professional moving patients on a remedy, lawyers selling juires on a verdict, entrepreneurs woo funders and coaches cajole players. And yes, business bloggers writing articles to attract interested readers and influence them to make a positive preview of their web sites' helpful content.
"Everyone lives by selling something" stated Robert Louis Stevenson and in Daniel H. Pink's "To Sell is Human - The suprising truth about moving others" new book, he makes the point that we're all in sales now. More in the future about how to be (attunement, buoyancy, clarity) and what to do (pitch, improvise and serve)... but I digress.
In 2006 another of my favorite authors, Tom Peters presented to GE Energy "111 Ridiculously Obvious Thoughts on Selling". Tom is always ahead of his time. Fortune and The Economist tags him the Uber-guru of management. Business Week descibe him as "business's best friend and worst night-mare"
The Best of Obvious Thoughts on Selling to consider in 2013
- It's Relationships, Stupid - deep and from multiple functions. Also Women are simply better at relationships. In a recent meeting of entrepreneurs I'm involved with, we each found improvement in our business by hiring women.
- Great Listeners are great sales people. Listening "skills" are hard to learn and subject to immense effort in pursuit of Mastery. Once you capture those key perspectives make sure you record these in your CRM system...
- What are you personally GREAT at? Play to your strengths. Be distinct or become extinct.
- Use the word "WE".... constantly and religiously. "We" - the Client and me - are going to change the world with this CRM custom service system..
- Keep IT simple! No matter how "sophisticated" the product. If you can't explain it in a phrase, a page, or to your 14-year-old... you haven't got it right yet. Truly "smart people".... simplify things.
- Know more than the next guy. Homework plays. Eat your own dog food - use what you sell and support.
- You must Love the Product -your valued offering. Know the intrinsic value it provides to your clients' lives and to their customers.
- Keep to the Gold Standard in selling: Indispensable to the Client.
- Be hyper-organized about relationship management. You are in the anthropology business. Having a useful CRM knowledge capturing system goes a long way to building a sustainable business and being an appreciating asset..
- Hire and Promote for Enthusiasm. Cherish it. Remove non-enthusiasts - they are cancers.
- It's never over: While there may be an excellent service activity in your company, the "relationship" belongs to You!. Hence the after sales "moments of truth" are at least as - if not more than - important to the continuing relationship as the sales "transaction" itself. Be an effective 'after-the-fact" go-between with your company.
- All Successful Salespeople are in the "Solutions Business" - no matter how jargony that may sound. Systems/solutions selling means grappling directly with "culture change" in the Client organization. Bring added value by helping them manage change.
- You are the "Brand" the Client buys - especially over the long haul.
- Goal #1: Make your client a Hero. You are not there to get the credit- that is for ego-maniacs.
- Become a student. Study great salespeople. And Yes you can study Relationship Building. Of course having a CRM system will help you visualize those important relationships and keep them "top of mind".
- Work like hell to get a reputation as a valued industry expert, to become an industry resource.
- Shit happens. That's what they pay you for. So be the first to tell the Client bad news (e.g. slipped delivery). You want to be there first with your story and to enhance your rep as a Truthteller!
- Little starts can lead to big wins. Most true winners - think search & Google - start as something small. Have the nerve to step out before the value become obvious
- "We have a 'strategy plan', it's called doing things"- Herb Kelleher. Action has its own logic. "Strategy" overrated, simply "doin' stuff" underrated.
- Be Kind - it works.
- Keep Your Word...
Now considering that there are 15 million people in the 'selling profession' in the U.S. and with the importance of Business Relationship Management it seems that our Success with CRM Consulting could certainly help a few of these professionals. Please pass the word.