Keeping Sales Human: Agile Selling in a Noisy, Busy World
On May 22nd I had the pleasure of chatting with one my fave sales experts – and I don’t throw that term around liberally – Jill Konrath. Always a breath of fresh, no-nonsense Midwestern common sense on sales, Jill talked about becoming a more agile seller in today’s crazy-busy and noisy world. I believe in keeping things human and today we’re talking about keeping sales human by being more agile.
So how can we be more agile sellers today? Here are a few things we talked about:
1. Adopt an Agile mindset – face any fear. Work at getting proficient. Be willing to do things differently. Our brains like patterns because it makes life easier; the issue, however, is that things change and putting sales on autopilot will cost you. Mastery starts as proficiency – so be willing to learn. That is the key to leadership in anything. As a comic I know says, “fondle the fear.” That’s how you get through it. This is where Jill suggests you start thinking about making changes. It all stems from mindset. I agree – that applies to everything!
2. Remember that successful sales is a thinking-intensive game. We can’t put things on autopilot. We need to prepare, research, ask the right questions and spend time understanding the buyer’s journey in each case. People have human needs and keeping sales human means understanding human needs. That is also the heart of Agile Selling.
3. Ask “what comes next?” Far too often businesses wait for prospects to drive the next steps. They have no incentive to and they have little time. Often, they may not even know what the process is. Step up and ask along the way, “What comes next?” repeatedly after each stage or interaction shows sales leadership and that you are willing to help them through the process – even helping to coordinate teams of buyers earlier rather than later.
4. Expanding on number 3 above, ask more questions to transform the way people think. People have needs – human ones – and they don’t exist to buy your stuff. Jill gave a great metaphor. We self-diagnose all the time and expect vendors to be order-takers. That puts sales and marketing in transaction mode where little value can be had. We need to ask those questions to help customers see their problems in new ways: lead them, rather than tell them. That is keeping sales human and letting your prospects know they are in good hands.
5. Deal with the human side directly. I asked this question because I think it is so important to keeping sales human and agile today. The decision-maker (or makers) feel personal risk. They have to – they are human. Address that up-front and directly. It shows empathy and demonstrates that you get that they face personal risks as well as professional ones.
6. Always use stories to connect. I talk about this ad nauseum – it’s one of the central tenets of keeping it human! It’s also about keeping sales human and agile. Sharing stories about prospects with similar issues (and size) demonstrates that you understand your audience’s issues, you’ve seen those challenges before, and you have had successful outcomes. Stop drowning people in facts. It doesn’t work! I only wish we had more time to talk about this because I believe it is critical to keeping sales and marketing human. That is better for prospects and for your business. Everybody wins.
Enough of the blah, blah, blah! Listen to the podcast now.