When was the last time you took time out to practice your sales skills?
Yes. Your sales skills.
If you’re like most people who don’t officially have “sales” in their title, you probably have the “huh?” look on your face, or maybe you even recoiled a little (“Sales? Ugh. I hate selling. I don’t sell, pleeeease don’t make me sell something!”).
Now what if instead I had asked – When was the last time you took time out to practice making dreams come true? I’m guessing you’d say something along the lines of never, but, it sounds appealing, right? Fun? Inspiring?
Well, surprise! Borrowing from the words of sales expert and author Geoffrey James:
“Selling is the process of making dreams come true”.
It’s not about manipulation, and it’s definitely not about bamboozling or conning or being “slick”. Although those are indeed some common stereotypes.
Connect your work to dreams of stakeholders
Selling is, as so aptly put by Mr. James, about connecting the dreams, goals and desires of others to the reality of what you have to offer.
And something that separates Customer Experience leaders from the rest of the pack is that their CX experts have honed the talent of connecting their work to the dreams of their stakeholders across the business– they can clearly show how working with them will make stakeholder goals happen faster and with less effort and stress.
CX experts with strong sales skills become sought-after partners and advisors, and can help to accelerate the adoption of a customer-centric approach across an organization (Marketing, Sales, HR, Finance, Operations, Call Centre, Strategy etc.).
Here are 3 ways to get better at it!
1. Take the time to get clear on your value.
So, you’re in CX. What’s your value? What do you do? What do you really do? Can you articulate it? Do you have a crisp elevator pitch? If not, spend some time to build one.
- CX market researcher – do you conduct research? Or, do you actually reduce risk and heartburn, improve decision making, build confidence and translate complex stats into English?
- CX strategist – do you create PowerPoint decks and strategy documents? Or, do you have the superhuman power of distilling mountains of complex data to clearly identify what really matters, where teams should focus and what investments will pay off?
- Call centre team lead – Do you manage a team of people who answer calls? Or, are you a coach who knows how to unlock the unique skills and talents of a team to deliver a personalized-yet-consistent experience to your customers?
Think about the benefits that are realized because of what you actually do. Not your title. Not the tasks that make up your day. What it is you really do. Don’t be modest.
2. Get to know your stakeholders (really know them)
You probably have lots of stakeholders. Ask yourself: how well do you know them?
See if you can answer these questions. If you can’t, ask!
- What do they do? (Same as you here – not their day-to-day tasks or title, but what outcomes and value do they deliver?)
- What do they love about their work? Their team?
- What drives them crazy about their work?
- What are the challenges that just don’t seem to go away?
- What would they stop doing if they could?
- What’s something that few people know about them/their team?
- What’s the prize – what’s the big thing they would love to accomplish? What gets in the way of accomplishing it? Why?
While you’re listening to the answers, listen for words or phrases like “heartburn”, “challenge”, “drives me crazy”, “the dream is…”, “if I could only…” – these are usually great places to look for opportunity. Opportunity to make some dreams come true!
Tip! Don’t ask any of this with a CX lens. For example, don’t ask what their CX challenges are, or what they do for customers. Not everyone is thinking about that or making that connection. Just ask about them. Their role. Their work.
3. Connect the dots
You’re clear on your value. You’ve had some conversations to really get to know and understand your stakeholders. Now you have the ingredients to connect the dots and make some dreams come true!
But how should you go about it?
First, look for matches – the needs, challenges, and wishes that match up with your value and your expertise. And then, at your next meeting with one of your matches, try the following:
Put them first on the agenda
Ask about them – What are they working on? What’s the big priority? How are things going?
Offer your help
Show them how you can do one or both of these things:
- Remove or significantly reduce their challenge(s) or stress.
- Help them achieve their dream faster, better.
Be specific, and use their language, their acronyms and their metrics.
“I want you to have less guesswork and heartburn when it comes to setting your turnaround targets for resolving tickets. I want you to feel confident that you’re hitting the mark with customers and not breaking the bank to do it. I have an approach that can help you narrow down the optimal turnaround time faster, and let you know when it needs to be updated. You’ll never be over or under- delivering”.
Now deliver what you promised!
Selling skills can make your CX dreams come true, too
CX experts with strong sales skills become sought after partners and advisors, and accelerate the adoption of a customer-centric approach across an organization.
To improve your sales skills, the first step is to change what you think selling is about. And in case you’ve forgotten already, it’s about making dreams come true! Who doesn’t want to do that?
If you’re interested, a few more ideas to help build your sales skills.
- The true definition of selling – Geoffrey James, inc.com (3 min article)
- The ABCs of persuasion – Daniel Pink (3 min video)
- The Art of the Elevator Pitch – Harvard Business Review (5 min article)
Happy Selling! 🙂