In today’s marketplace sales talents and skills are hopelessly lost unless professionals can find a way to truly connect with clients. With every client interaction, the desire of the sales professional should be to not only have clients listen and remember what they have to say, but ultimately to have clients move forward to take action, change a behavior, or to be inspired.
Obstacles lurk in the sales environment, waiting to disrupt professional relationships, poison results, and kill great ideas before those ideas have even had a chance to develop.
Obstacles lurk in the sales environment, waiting to disrupt professional relationships, poison results, and kill great ideas before those ideas have even had a chance to develop. Top performing sales professionals share competencies in navigating and avoiding three (3) key pitfalls: Distraction, Competition and Commoditization.
The Threat Of Distraction
Distraction is a jealous seductress. It not only threatens your connection with others, but it refuses to share your audience’s attention. It annoyingly whispers, “Pay attention to this shiny object.” Distraction is a direct culprit in preventing sales professionals from earning the attention of prospective clients. Not surprisingly, the marketplace has large pockets of fickle, un-committed customers that year after year go from vendor to vendor, product to product, and solution to solution.
Distraction ruins flow. If the listener is distracted when communicating with the sales professional, they are less likely to hear to what that professional has to say. Worse, they are less likely to find value in what the sales professional has to say. If the listeners’ brains are not distracted, they can hear you’re your message more clearly. They are more likely to want to engage with the sales professional. They are more open to building a lasting and prosperous relationship.
High performing sales professionals triumph over distraction by:
- Focusing on compelling first impressions to pave the way to long-term relationships and loyalty
- Leveraging their personality and individual advantages as natural weapons
- Avoiding communication not oriented around adding value for the client
The Threat of Competition
Competition is a public executioner. Competition might motivate a sales professional at first, urging them to expend time, money and energy to win. But it is super important to note that if that competition leads the professional down the wrong path, the professional will find themselves not only stuck but playing someone else’s game and nothing of value to account for it.
Professionals in general, not just sales professionals, have either been told or have told others themselves the importance of “trying hard to be “better.” Be better than everyone else. Be better than other colleagues at the company, better than the other professionals on the sales team, better than the other sales job applicants.
The reality, however, is that “better” is not better. Better is a mirage that keeps professionals chained to the same way of working as your competition.
The reality, however, is that “better” is not better. Better is a mirage that keeps professionals chained to the same way of working as your competition. Better is temporary as it can be toppled in a millisecond by someone with a bigger following, a lower price, a more convenient location, a fancier degree, a shinier resume, and a newer technology.
While businesses have been solely focusing on being “better”, clients have gone in a different direction, becoming more fickle, flirting without long-term commitment, switching back and forth to get the best deal, upgrading and downgrading.
One of the reasons high performing sales professionals maintain an edge over their peers is because they understand that “different” is better than better. While competition can push people to be their best, high performing sales professionals understand that successfully differentiating yourself allows you to become the go-to-person in your category.
This is when professionals can start to charge higher prices and have a lot more control in their market. They not only establish the playing field, now they control it. They aren’t necessarily better than the competition, but clients perceive value and reward them with loyalty and long-term commitment.
The Threat Of Commoditization
If distraction is a seductress and competition is a public executioner, then commoditization is a silent assassin. It permeates your professional relationships with complacency, negates your points of difference, undermines your defining qualities, and eventually transforms the professional and the professional’s edge into a dull, generic replica.
For some professionals, “adding value” means literally adding dollars to a customer’s bottom line, or to a client’s account. There is an ever-growing number of industries in which the battle to maintain customers is hard fought because these industries have become largely commoditized.
For sales professionals specifically, you become a commodity once you cease to remember why the customer chose you in the first place. You can’t just put your energy into winning the deal and then allow your customer base to gather dust in the closet.
High performing sales professionals constantly remind themselves as well as their teams that their client base “demands” that they continue to fascinate them on an ongoing basis. High performing sales professionals also understand that they simply can’t afford to become a commodity, regardless of what they are selling. The bottom line is that the salesperson ultimately is the one driving the relationship and making sure the customer is happy.