You know that expression: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” Ever wonder how many of your customers commoditize you under the category of “salesperson” (aka, “duck”?) You know what I’m talking about: you walk and talk like a stereotypic salesperson.
Talking the talk and walking the walk involves more than memorizing the latest messaging and sales spiels that corporate sends your way. That’s what your customers and prospects are expecting: Duck Talk and Walk. The first person you should read these messages to is yourself. If you believe what you are saying to yourself, then you’ll deliver this messaging in a credible manner. If you don’t believe your company’s value proposition, then it’s time to have those conversations with your sales manager and marketing managers so that they are successful in selling you, first and foremost. You never know. You may find allies you thought you never had. They may gain insight from your comments on their work. After all, you are the person in the firing line in front of the customer. Most of the time, the marketing folks aren’t. This can be a win-win conversation. Have it.
Selling is more than delivering data that you receive from corporate. Take the time to research the research. When we present information to potential customers, much of what we cite are industry studies that either our company or someone else’s has sponsored. While the data seems convincing and airtight, it usually supports our company’s or product’s competitive position in the marketplace. That’s what your customers and prospects are expecting from you and your company: Duck Research. What happens when you present your data, and then continue the discussion by saying: “I did some additional research on this topic, just to make sure what I am presenting isn’t one-sided. And it is / or isn’t. Here’s what I found.” Now you are an advocate for your customer. Now you are on your way to gaining their trust. Now you are on your way to using the left side of your brain as well. Data is compelling, if you take the time to understand what does, and does not, make sense to your customers.
Think beyond your own sales cycle; put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you want to become that go-to resource for customers and prospects, find out how they position themselves in their respective marketplaces. Perhaps they are doing quite a bit of quacking and waddling themselves and are stuck in their own status quo. The more you can find out about what the status quo looks and sounds like in their organizations, the more easily you can align your products, services, and platforms as tools to move them out of the rut they are in. The solution you propose becomes strategic, rather than tactical. Once you are regarded as a strategic resource, your prospects and customers start taking you seriously. They won’t be dismissing you at all, because that is not what they were expecting. There’s a big difference between being a strategic resource and being a stereotypic salesperson.
Take a look across your customer base. Identify customers you enjoy working with; they are probably the customers you also do your best work for. These are your A-List Customers. Put these three tips into place with these favored customers. Move them, and yourself, 1 millimeter outside your comfort level, incrementally. Sometimes all it takes is doing something ever so slightly differently.
It makes all the difference in the world – and a compelling reason to do business with you.
[This post was originally featured, in part, on September 13, 2012, for Nancy Bleeke’s SalesProInsider blog, and titled “How To Be Taken Seriously in Sales… Be A Go-To Resource”. Check out Nancy’s blog at SalesProInsider.com]