Today, I was coaching a good friend on some sales calls. We were role playing the call, he was struggling with telling the customer who he was and what his company did (they developed and sold software products). He had the same problem I see many sales people have. We have been so indoctrinated with being consultative and solutions focused that we are reluctant to call ourselves “sales people.” We dance around the issue, we don’t even put the title “Sales Person” on our business cards, we cloud it with some different kind of title. (I particularly like Relationship Manager, we have some friends that are having some problems in their marriage, maybe they can use a Relationship Manager.)
We are not consultants—unless you really are. We sell solutions that solve very specific problems for customers. When we are prospecting, we are looking for people and organizations that have the problems we solve. We are not interested in helping our customers solve world hunger–unless our company develops these solutions. We want to be consultative and solutions focused in understanding our customers problems, requirements, and goals—but only as they pertain to solutions we provide. Otherwise, we are wasting their time and our time. Customers want to know what we can do for them very quickly. They want to hear, “We help people who want to achieve this. We do it by providing software tools that enable your people to do this.” If we have done our homework, hopefully we have an inkling that they are worried about these issues before we even call them. Have they responded to our marketing campaigns? Have we seen news about their company that indicate they may have a need or requirement? Are all the companies in their industry having the same problems?
Let’s give our customers credit. They know we are sales people, they know that we will be trying to present our products and services, possibly persuading them to buy. These days, they probably won’t be interested in meeting with us unless they had some potential, possibly very remote interest in what we are selling–that still doesn’t make them a qualified customer, but it does make them a possible prospect. We want to determine if they have problems we can solve. They want to determine if we have the potential of solving their problem, if they are interested in talking to us further.
A customer isn’t looking for a consultant—unless they really are. They are looking for people to help them solve problems. They are looking to address new opportunities. They want to talk to people that can solve their problems. They may not know they have a problem, then they may not want to talk to anyone–getting their interest in this case is another blog.
We’re sales people, we provide solutions to help our customers do certain things. We want to find customers who want to do that. Let’s give our customers the respect to be direct with them and hope they are direct with us. Seems so much simpler.