Rainbow has seven color acronym VIBGYOR – Violet, Indigo; Blue, Green; Yellow; Orange and Red. Similarly Sales profession is also filled with diverse colours of experiences. My sales experience has many palettes of colour and would love to share few of them.
Selling is understanding humanity. It cannot be learned in classroom or books but the lessons are in your experiences. I had the opportunity to tread paths along with many brilliant sales professionals and observed what made them click. They had the complete sales package but one skill was outstanding that made all the difference. I have changed names of friends to hide their identity.
- Ramesh: Early on I had the privilege to watch him consistently exceed his sales target and I always wondered how until one day I accompanied him on a sales call. I realized that he would develop rapport with DECISION MAKER and a stronger RAPPORT WITH HIS GATEKEEPER. He took utmost care of the gatekeeper whether her or him. And result was gatekeeper acted as the EARLY WARNING, DETECTIVE and INFLUENCER to influence decision in Ramesh’s favour. Unknowingly he practices two Laws of influence Called LIKE & Reciprocity
- Janardhan: My second teacher is a great QUIZ MASTER. He would relentlessly ask questions. Questions that I was hesitant to ask or was afraid to open the Pandora box. But it came fluid to him. If he does a demo or submits a proposal he would request feedback. How did the demo go or proposal is? What is the advice to make it better? What are his weak links? In the words of Robert D. Cialdini – the guru of persuasion – he transformed his prospects inot mentors and coach. Inadvertently he practiced law of influence i.e. “COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY” which says “If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self image.” Janardhan would work towards getting compliance to a smaller request that is in congruence with his larger request to follow i.e. asking for the purchase order.
- Saleem: My Third teacher has the art to FIRE CUSTOMERS with OPTIONS AND TIRE THEM OUT: Research says that patience is an exhaustible resource. For example he would tactfully engage the customer and when customer says price is high? He would ask how much? Then he would go on to say he will extend the same terms of support and the asking price provided he replaces Compaq Network card with 3Com Ethernet card. And he would tactfully extend the discussion ultimately exhausting customer’s patience and influencing him to give in and confirm the order.
- Karim: My fourth teacher is a great NEGOTIATOR. His objective is to make fat margin so he can make fat commission. When others made 7% – 10% gross margin his gross margin always exceeded 15%. On one of his sales call the decision maker cautioned “give me AED 15,000.00 discount now and I will confirm the order.” The proposal had a hefty Gross margin of over 30%. But James did not hesitate and said “There is no margin in the deal but he would throw in a free piece of hardware to conclude.” This hardware was coming free from the principal as part of recent announcement. Hence he made healthy margin and also made the customer happy. A win win deal.
- Jackson: My fifth teacher is like any other sales person but his one skill makes him outstanding. First thing he would only target large customers. Second he would weave a web of intimacy around the decision makers. And this web of intimacy will begin from security guard, office boy and all who interact with the decision makers. He would call everyone with their first name, remember there special days and send them greetings on special occasions. Finally everyone in his customers’ office would work as his extended sales team. He inadvertently applies law of Reciprocity which says that it’s in human DNA to return the favour and more unexpected, special the favour is bigger is the return.
- Surya: My sixth teacher loves technology and focuses on large business deals. I call him a GAME CHANGER. Global marketing Guru Al Ries says that if you are not the first in your customers mind you will lose prospects mindshare. In Surya’s case even if he is the last to approach the prospect. He would ask questions and suggest an alternate solution to his problem which would be better or most cost effective. Now he becomes the first in customers mind for the recommended solution and the likely recipient of the purchase order.
The lessons are abundant and profound. The trick is how effectively you deploy them to outsmart your competition and win the hearts of your prospects.