Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures
Long ago. I read a book titled, “If It Ain’t Broke, Break it.” The authors were urging salespeople to be innovative in finding new ways to make a sale. An individual can be sure that different eras and different products call for different approaches, however, as Solomon wrote – there’s nothing new under the sun. We sell to people, and though people are different across cultures, we are all created the same. We all want to buy something we believe we need from someone we can trust and at a competitive price. This means that those selling a product must value the customer’s needs. The tendency of many in sales is to emphasize price as they are essentially order takers and not salespeople. Below are my suggestions for those in sales to become more productive – for the duration!
Belief in the product is fundamental. The question I often asked our salespeople is – “Do you believe our products are the better way to meet the customer’s needs, and if so, why?” If they don’t, they will lack the drive to get out and serve both the prospective and current customer. Note I said serve and not sell. Regardless of if you are selling a product or a service, you must believe it will benefit the customer. If you don’t, then you will become merely an order taker who sells on price, and you won’t be effective.
To believe in a product means you believe in the company who produces the product, and to believe in the company, you must see a heart for the customer throughout the company. A salesperson can’t be a strong believer if there is a lack of passion to serve the customer in the rest of the company. Everything starts with belief.
Knowledge is vital. If you aren’t driven to know as much as you can about your product and how it is exceptional or how to make it exceptional, then it will be difficult for you to be an effective sales agent.
In our early years of building up our feed company, we were asked why we pushed ourselves so hard to provide unique services as we learned about the products we sold, and how the customer should best use them. Others thought their job was to sell, leaving knowledge up to the “experts”. We wanted to be experts! Many customers would call my dad for advice about their animal’s health needs before calling a veterinarian. We held meetings to show producers how to manage cash flow and put financials together. Annually, we held a large swine seminar, where we brought in various industry people to share knowledge with local producers. I kept records for most of the turkeys sold in the Midwest – even if they weren’t customers. We placed a high value on knowledge, and we became the largest mill in the state of Iowa, and one of the largest in the USA.
I say this not to boast, but to emphasize the importance for a great sales team to be highly educated on the products they sell, why they sell them, and how to serve the customer after the sale. As with faith in Jesus, belief must have a result, and that result is the hunger to know more and more about our Savior.
Relationship is the clincher. Too many companies see their customer as only a means to increase revenue. They smile and are polite, but they aren’t interested in the customer as a fellow human being. As children of our Heavenly Father, we are to see people as He does. Jesus came to serve, and so must we serve the customer. The practical aspect is that the more you respect the customer, the more he/she will trust you. You must cherish that trust and guard it with all your might, as you constantly strive to better meet their needs.
Sales is relationship building. Order takers don’t care about relationships, but God-ly companies do. The order taker may sound like your best friend – until you become a buyer and then they pass you off to the customer service department. Think about who you prefer to do business with. Don’t you prefer to do business with someone you trust? Don’t you prefer to buy products from someone who actually cares about you? Effective salespeople are effective relationship builders; not because they must be, but because they value others as much as they want to be valued.
Belief + Knowledge + Relationships will repeatedly produce the sale.