Barbara Mednick, a Twin Cities marketing communications consultant and freelance writer for the Star Tribune, wrote a recent article about sales behavior.
Barb asserts, that in a complex sale, “your behavior counts – even when you don’t think you’re working.” It begins with the mindset of becoming a trusted advisor – one who seeks to build a valued relationship rather just schmoozing people to get the sale.
In sales, your behavior counts – even when you don’t think you’re working. Whether you are wearing the company shirt, handing out business cards at a networking event, taking clients to dinner, or going to a company party, you are representing your company.
Opportunity and Challenge
When it comes to relationships, there are two sides to the coin – opportunity and challenge. While a business networking event provides an excellent opportunity to interact with prospects and customers in an unstructured, neutral setting, it also means salespeople have to watch their behavior around clients and potential clients. That’s because people want to do business with someone they feel comfortable around.
Behaving badly at holiday parties may be a sign that a salesperson is behaving badly in client situations, too, according to Joni Johnston, CEO, WorkRelationships, Inc., a workplace-behavior training and consulting firm in Del Mar, Calif.
“Managers are often unaware that a salesperson’s bad behavior – such as drinking too much – can turn off clients,” said Johnston, quoted in the January 2004 issue of Sales & Marketing Management magazine. “Clients aren’t going to tell you that the reason they aren’t going with your company is that they felt uncomfortable around your salesperson. But the reality is people want to do business with someone they feel comfortable around.”
Now here’s the flip side.
“Even though you’re attending a networking event, you are still selling. But you can step outside the salesperson role to build a connection with prospects/customers,” says Don Wright, vice president-sales, InTouch, Inc., a Vadnais Heights company that delivers ROI-focused (return on investment) lead-generation solutions for the complex sale. “When you’re making a sales call, prospects know there is an agenda. But if you meet a decision maker in a less structured setting, you have an opportunity to display your personality and industry expertise, which enables you to connect with them on a different level.”
Become a Trusted Advisor
According to a recent study, “Evaluating the Cost of Sales Calls,” by Cahners Research, the cost of a sales call continues to rise, and it takes more calls to close a sale than ever before. The report concluded that “more than 90 percent of customers state they would like their sales representatives to be more of a resource to them. Sales representatives who understand the business’ needs and pressures of their customers are 69 percent more likely to come away with a sale.”
Increasingly, salespeople must find opportunities to get outside the context of their sales role in order to reach key decision makers. “There is so much marketing and sales noise out there today that key decision makers are going to great lengths to shield themselves by having their calls and e-mails screened. This is making it more difficult to reach them, particularly with complex sales, which require a strategic investment of dollars and top management approval,” says Wright.
“To succeed, you have to differentiate yourself from the competition by nurturing viable leads and developing relationships to become more of a trusted adviser,” says Wright.
Republished with permission from Star Tribune Sales and Marketing. This article was originally published on Friday, May 28, 2004, in the Star Tribune WORKING section, www.startribune.com/working