…adding value is the ONLY option.
It’s intuitive to most that sales people we need to add value on every sales call and in every interaction with a customer or prospect. We’ve got to be:
Or any other combination of acts of service to our customers and prospects.
What wasn’t at first intuitive to me was observing the success (or lack thereof) of the numerous window suppliers that worked with locations across the country when I lead the national window program for a large LBM dealer.
Time and time again, our sales managers and reps who aligned with one supplier over another did so because that rep “showed up” consistently. One could at first perceive this as the reps who “made the rounds” on a “route” were commanding the time and attention of our sales people. That merely by walking through the door (with or without donuts), a manufacturer would win us over.
But upon further examination of course it wasn’t THAT the rep was stopping by consistently; it was WHAT the rep did when she was in our location. The best reps would walk in and get to work:
- Solving (a problem)
- Educating (us on a product or best practice)
- Providing (a project lead or competitive insight)
- Helping (with take-offs, quote help, or an answer)
- Guiding (us to become better at what we do)
And for leadership, there’s a sixth item to add to the list: Learning. When we visit with customers or prospects (but particularly current customers), we need to ask the questions that let us understand where we’re performing and where we’re not—and what it will take to close that gap.
So before showing up at your customer’s location without a plan to add some value, just know there’s a competitor that’s likely kicking your ass by being intentional about showing up and adding value on each and every call.
When the strategies, initiatives, and priorities begin to stack up, it may be time to return to the basics and execute. Because remember, when everything’s important….NOthing’s important. So start here:
- Blocking and Tackling….If a football team’s offensive line can’t do their job with excellence and protect the quarterback, no series of Hail Mary plays will ever win the game. If the defense can’t stop their opponents from scoring, they will never win. It may seem boring to practice and perfect “blocking and tackling,” but in sales–if you aren’t seeing your top 20% of your customers regularly, training and providing information to them, bringing them leads, planning with them, and providing superior, responsive support…you stand the chance of losing the business when someone beats you at this same game. Do the basics of territory and customer management over and over and over again and leave nothing to chance, leave no opening to a competitor, andbe so consistently excellent that your customer could never imagine being in business with anyone else but you.
- Continuously Sharpen Your Saw….Stephen Covey taught us that the smart woodsman stops to sharpen his saw rather than sawing away non-stop. How are you learning more about your profession? Your industry? Your competitors? How are you keeping your energy up to be your very best? How are you improving yourself to be a better provider for your family and for your own future?
Read books, listen to books on CD or MP3, peruse websites and blogs, subscribe to sources of info that matter, take time to eat right and exercise, and commit to being the best you can be.
- Collaborate and Make It Easy for Others to Help You…When working with your manager, always bring your recommended solutions when you raise a problem. Communicate in ways that help others instantly understand what you want from them and how they can help. Use a “headlines” style in sending written communications and get to the point right off the bat. Reach out to others throughout your organization for help–across lines, and up and down the ladder. Be a “networker” inside your own company. And remember,the best results come through collaboration. You may not have all the answers, and its doubtful that your manager does. But by collaborating together, 1 + 1 always = 3.
- Always Be Heading North…Now that you’re blocking and tackling, you’re sharpening your game, and you’re collaborating and networking to gain support…Just Do It! And “It” means the things you know you need to be doing to achieve the goals and objectives you and your manager have set for you. Build your own personal work plan and schedule, hold yourself accountable, and head North.
- Pay Attention to and Hit the Numbers…Read the sales reports and information you have available to you and use them as indicators of what’s working and what needs attention. They provide you early warning of shortfalls and they show you what’s working and where. Reaching your sales plan is at the center of the other 4 steps above…and will always be the most important.