Yup, I just asked “that” question. And it’s for everyone, not just the folks who are sales people. Because when you start thinking about sales, well, we all are in that business. We communicate our thoughts and ideas to our internal customer colleagues and to end-users, our external customers. We may try to convince them of the validity or appropriateness of our solution, whether it’s a CAD-based design or an internet marketing program or a CRM tool. We’re all pitching and selling, whether we are technical professionals or not.
The thing is, do you change your delivery depending on to whom you’re speaking? If you are a technical professional speaking to an engineering peer, do you simplify what you are talking about or do you throw in even more technical terms. And with this embellished vocabulary, are you communicating any better? If you are a sales person speaking to another sales person, are you slinging the biz buzz lingo because you expect they understand what you are talking about?
If you can’t communicate, you aren’t selling.
Yourself, your idea, your company, your value, your credibility, your products, your services. You aren’t selling yourself to your peers and colleagues and you aren’t selling yourself to your non-peer colleagues, either. Let’s not even discuss your clients at this point. You know the answer to that not-asked question.
Perhaps we find the sales process compromising because we feel we need to put someone else’s words into our mouths. We can’t be ourselves and customize the spiel to our comfort level. We perceive our role in the sales process as being a mouthpiece on legs, rather than an individual communicating with another individual. So the technical professionals end up stumbling all over their verbiage and the sales folks end up sounding just so slick.
We are selling to attain quotas someone else sets for us, if we sell products. We are selling to pay our own bills if we work for ourselves, in between taking time off from selling to actually complete the work we’ve sold. We are selling to win awards, prizes, bonus compensation, recognition by our peers, recognition by professional societies.
How many of us are selling to please ourselves?
We “hit it” with one customer and “miss it” with another one. We pour our heart and soul into a proposal only to find out it’s missed the mark. We’re following all the formulaic stuff we are supposed to do in order to sell. It’s sort of like putting your right foot here and your left foot there….a game of Twister. Except that there is no standardization to the sales process because no one told our customers to be homogeneous.
Sure we can specialize in certain industries or we are an ace at designing solutions for specific problems. Sure we try to fine tune our customer base so that we have more of the types of folks we do our best work for. Reproducibility, right? Wrong. People are people and situations are situations and it never goes the same way twice. And we beat ourselves up over our perceived failure to, well, “sell.”
So at the end of the day, how do you feel about your role in the sales process? Satisfied or compromised? And what are you going to do about it? Think about it.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013-2016. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools and is available on Amazon.