Everyday Sales Leadership: Stop, Collaborate and Listen

March 20, 2013 — 4 Comments
Today’s post was written by a former colleague of mine, Jess Titchener – an     adrenalin-driven management consultant living, working and serving in London.   You can follow Jess on Twitter as well as on her new faith-based blog at        thistrainisboundforglory.com. To be featured on this site, click here.

As I reflect on the three years that I have worked in corporate sales and negotiations in the communications and media industry, I have been thinking about what we can all apply from some fundamental “sales” principles into our daily working routines – whatever area we may work in.

Business People WalkingI think my lessons can be distilled into these three priorities.

Stop.

This may seem counter intuitive, but there is real value in pausing during our chaotic schedules and blocking out time between meetings. Our culture is obsessed with time-to-record and time-to-implement type standards. Even in our most innovative commercial enterprises, implementation measures have become much more stringent, particularly since 2008.  This can encourage hasty and simplistic decision-making across the organization.

When it comes to sales leadership, I have found that creating sensible personal checkpoints is key to aligning my daily agenda with the client’s agenda. My clients have been most satisfied when we have come across mismatches of expectations on that particular day – NOT two weeks later. The time we take to stop and compare expectations means we can reconfigure, begin again, and then meet appropriate deadlines.

WIN-WIN: Clients understand and approve what has been accomplished and what is left to accomplish. Carve out time to stop today.

Collaborate.

During my first annual reviews, the question that really stumped me was, “what is your definable skill set?” Beyond communication and PowerPoint, I was never sure what the school answer was for me. Three years in, I realize my ability to pull in WHO I need WHEN I need them is probably my best asset. At the heart of a successful sales team is a trusted network you can rely on to provide the latest information, both inside and outside of your workplace. Building such a network means you’ll have to invest significant time and also share some of the glory. But it also means you’ll have access to a group of people with the knowledge and ability to help your clients in almost every scenario.

WIN-WIN:  Clients have access to a web of expert’s knowledge beyond any one person’s limited experience. Invest in collaboration now, even if you don’t have the opportunities in front of you that require that knowledge.

Listen.

Listen to what the client says, every day. Too often we are preoccupied with our strategies to win, and our strategies to grow their business. Too often we haven’t heard the subtle nuances in their language in the information they choose to share with us. I spent 6 months of my life working on an opportunity that we ended up losing due to lack of trust in the relationship. Unfortunately, we had this feedback on week 1, yet we relied on a strong solution and an “expert team” to make the sale. Quite frankly it doesn’t matter what you are an expert in unless the client wants to buy you. Ultimately, people buy people.

WIN-WIN: The client feels understood and part of the entire process. Listen to what your clients are saying so you can gain their trust and understand where you need to work together more closely.

So whether you work in sales or simply need to “sell” an idea to someone else, make sure you take time to

STOP

COLLABORATE

And

LISTEN.

What other basic sales tips should all leaders be aware of?

  • Thanks for the advice, Jess!

  • Listening is so important – because if the customer is sharing something with you, then it is because it is important. Every business is nuanced enough that you need to pay attention to the details and draw the connections – that is how you stand out.

    • I’m learning that there is a difference between selling a service and selling a solution. Your point about listening (and yours, Jess), probably make the latter possible.

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