Someone paid me a great compliment recently…
“Jeff, I really enjoy reading your newsletter. You’ve got a very holistic approach to selling.”
I like that. In fact, it made my day. I’ve taken that approach for years, and it’s worked well for me once I was confident enough to shake off the stereotypes of how someone was supposed to be selling- Product first, feature/benefit/close, and Always Be Closing… None of that seemed authentic to me, or even like someone I’d want to buy from, so I couldn’t commit to it, and I wasn’t selling that much as a result.
Along the way I learned a thing or two about the importance of buying motives, and I started to think about customers buying instead of me selling. I thought about creating the ideal customer experience, one where I became a trusted advisor rather than another salesperson. I gave my honest opinions, and told the truth when my product wasn’t the best solution for them. I made sure I was the same salesman on the 5th of the month as I was on the 25th, and I sometimes <gasp> left orders on the table at the end of the quarter.
Isn’t the end of time way more important than the end of the month?
I made a living being easy to work with. I was almost the anti-salesman, I was at least the anti-stereotypical salesman. My number wasn’t as important as the people I was working with and the relationships I was building. Selling is about connecting. It’s about those relationships. So when I take a holistic approach to selling, “holistic” means I respect the entire process, including the buyer’s, not just my own.
I know what you’re thinking… “The buyer can’t control the sales process…” It think a relationship with one person in total control isn’t really much of a relationship at all. Do you not think your customers know what day of the month it is? Do you not think they have month-end constraints as well? Don’t you think that if you earned enough respect in your relationship that they’d start to look out for you around the 28th? The last week of the month always seemed to be a little busier for me, but never because I was “dialing for dollars.”
It isn’t about controlling the sales process, it’s about earning sales… and respect.
If you cultivate an environment where you look out for your customers’ best interests, and provide enough value, you’ll find that they’ll do the same for you.