When I present to sales organizations searching for the Holy Grail to sell in this economy, I start with a very basic question: "What is your job as a salesperson?" Usually, that question is met with silence for a moment; and then I'm peppered by a plethora of descriptions: "Sell something to someone!" "Generate revenue!" "Hit quota!" I'm always amazed at the description variance for the same role. Often times, I hear these differences among the members of a single sales team. How can a salesperson be successful if they can't clearly define their role?
This exercise is followed by another question: "Would it be worth the price of admission if I could provide you with a one-word job description that provides you with a level of focus that you have never had before? You will wake up every morning and say, "I know exactly what my job is!" As you can imagine, this offer is always met with a warm reception.
To help paint this picture, I ask the group to picture the two sides of Velcro—the cotton side and the hook side. Imagine each side represents a business entity—buyers and suppliers. Think about it. There is no other part to the sales equation. Thus, the fundamental job of the salesperson is to put these two entities together. The one-word job description is to be the "matchmaker."
Right away, a salesperson will say, "But, my company pays me. I have to be focused on generating sales." Fair point…or is it? The company may actually write the check, but from where do the dollars come? It's from the revenue generated from the clients. Thus, while the supplier writes the check, the buyer is funding the transaction.
The matchmaker salesperson works with these two entities with the goal of bringing them together. To successfully do this, the matchmaker needs to master both sides of the equation.
For the supplier side of the equation, the sales person needs to understand:
• The supplier's offerings
• The important features and functions of each one
• The problems each offering solves for a client
• The attributes of the ideal client for each offering
• What buyer needs/circumstances affect the scope of the offering
The buyer side of the equation is more complex, but critical for the matchmaker to be successful in formulating these relationships. The key is to recognize that there are a number of "buying players" who affect/influence the sale and a comprehensive understanding is needed of each one.
Once you have identified each of the buying players, ask yourself:
• What business challenges keep them up at night?
• What information can you learn from them to help facilitate the sale?
• What is their language? (It is most effective if you can use their vernacular when communicating with them.)
• What is the SYNERGY between the supplier's capabilities and the buyer's challenges?
• Why should the supplier's offering be a PRIORITY for this buying player right now?
The last two questions are the most important aspects to formulating relationships (a.k.a. generating sales.) "Synergy" is the process of comparing and contrasting what you know about the problems that the supplier's offerings solve and the specific problems that each buying player faces. If a buying player is heavily influential in the decision-making process, but you cannot identify synergies between their challenges and the supplier's solutions, it will be nearly impossible to engage them. No sale!
"Priority" answers the fundamental question of, "Why now?" One of the common sales excuses for not getting a response from a voicemail or email is that the decision-maker is busy. "You can imagine why they aren't responding. They're busy. They have a full plate." Great news! The government just announced that they are issuing everyone a second plate. Problem solved! Humor aside, the real issue is that if you cannot align the solution with the buying player's most problematic areas, you will find that opportunities languish in the pipeline. Just like the old Roach Motel, "they go in, but they don't come out!"
The next time you want to use the "they're busy" excuse, imagine this: As you're reading this article, you receive a call from your CEO who wants to meet with you tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. to discuss tripling your salary, will you be at the meeting? I bet you will. You never even checked your calendar before committing, did you? Why? The answer is that money is a priority for you. Everything else gets cast aside to have a meeting about tripling your income.
The exact same results are achieved if you can identify synergy and priority with your buying players. They will be responsive. They will have meetings and re-organize their day to meet with you if the supplier solution solves a problem that is keeping the decision-making, buying player up at night.
While you may be looking for answers on how to sell in a miserable economy, the solution is right under your nose. Find the synergies and priority between the supplier and buyer; and become a true matchmaker sales person.
Note: To receive Lee's buying player worksheet, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right salespeople, on-board them, and focus their sales activity using his sales architecture methodology. He is the President of Sales Architects, the C.E.O. of Business Expert Webinars and author of "Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager." Lee is an online columnist for Sales and Marketing Management magazine and the host of the Internet radio show, "Secrets of Business Gurus." Look for Lee's new book in 2009 titled, "The Sales Marriage" where he shares the secrets to hiring the right salespeople. He is a passionate, dynamic speaker and a business consultant. Lee can be reached at email@example.com or 763.416.4321.