I’ve been extremely busy lately as you must have noticed, I’ve bare had time to do many things, but one thing that never leaves my schedule daily is Learning! The day we stop learning is the day we start dying. Michelangelo said it well on his death bed, when he said -“still, I am learning”. I feel genuinely sorry for young people who allow their lives to just slide by. No conscious effort to add value to themselves, no conscious effort to take their lives out of the norms. Just going with the flow, waking, eating and sleeping. Learn… you have to learn everyday. That’s one of the reasons why this site is there, not only for you to read what is most current, but for you to go back to the past and learn.
If you have observed life well, you would have come to know, that the earth supports the negative trend. Rarely will you find maize gathering together somewhere to grow by themselves in commercial quantities -lol. Weed however needs no cultivation. In essence, you don’t need to do anything to grow wrong, just live life normally. The earth also supports the downward trend, it’s flight or upward movement that requires effort, coming down requires no work. Gravity pulls down! The rivers flow towards the lowest point… you want to end up a loser? Do nothing, just wake up when you feel like, eat regularly and sleep as soon as you feel like it.
Sorry for that detour, I’m sure someone needed that reminder. What I want to write about today is selling. If you read my previous articles on Selling, Selling 001 and Selling 002, you will see that selling is something I believe every human being should know a thing or two about. Whether you are a sales man on not, we all sell. We sell ourselves for a Job, a wife or promotion, we sell our perceptions – about football, a drink or someone else, we sell things – sometimes without knowing that is what we are doing. We sell ourselves, our friends e.t.c., we all sell. The most popular books are not written by the best authors, they are written by the best selling authors. Your ability to sell well, will go a long way to position you as the best in whatever your real specialization is. Selling is a skill that can be learnt. In the next few paragraphs, I will be adding one extra touch to helping you increase your selling ability. Read on.
One of the challenges that faces many people in every phase of life, is how to penetrate an account. An account in this article means the client, person, or groups of people you want to begin to use your product or patronize your services. Your account can be a company, a prospect, a group, an individual, a shop e.t.c. Account penetration then, talks about how to break the ice. How to get the attentive ear of the prospective. Contrary to the order in which these articles were written, this is actually the first thing you will need to do before making your sales pitch. Nobody cares how much you know, until they are convinced of how much you care. You need to first penetrate the account before anything you say will make sense to the buyer. Here are practical steps and thoughts on penetrating any account.
1. Be a consultant, not a sales man. The chances of having access to people with cowboy style -“I have a product to sell to you”, is very low these days. People say a good salesman can sell ice to an eskimo, I disagree with them! A good salesman shouldn’t sell ice to an eskimo, he should sell heater to an eskimo. People have created the assumption that sales prowess is the ability to sell someone what he or she doesn’t need. This is a lie, this kind of tactics could win you the battle, but it will help you lose the war! As an exceptional sales man, you need to think like a consultant, what does your client need, you must provide only what you are certain will help your prospect, not what you want to dispose of. Real selling is helping.
Example: I’m regularly thinking of better ways to help my customers, better ways to add value. Everyday I realize that I’m not into the business of one product, I’m into the business of one purpose… and whatever product meets that purpose is what I should sell.
2. Be knowledgeable about your accounts needs and fears. How can you help a client, individual or group whose needs you don’t know? How can you help a client whose business you don’t understand? How can you help when you don’t know what keeps them awake at night, when you are not aware of their true needs? You need to dedicate time and research into understanding what your account truly needs, and what truly bothers your account. I remember a film where a guy lost a girl he really wanted to marry because he doesn’t know her favorite colour. A demonstration of understanding of another’s present condition is very touching. It’s a must have for someone who wants to be a consultant rather than the typical world view salesman.
Example: Knowing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and getting a feel of where my customer is helps me know how to approach my customer. While someone else is worrying about what to eat, another might be worrying about where to travel to. All the fingers are not equal, nor do they all start from the same place.
3. Know the structure of the account and the decision maker. It will save you a lot of time if you know how your account or client is structured. Why spend hours talking with the clerk that doesn’t make decisions, when one minute with the decision maker can get you what you want? I remember that in some cultures the person to ask for the girls’ hand in marriage is the father, and in some, it’s the girl herself. Wasting time with the person that is not the decision maker won’t take you far. Understand the structure of your account, and penetrate to the decision maker. There are objections you will face in account penetration that are not real objections, they are just the “this is how it is done here” that the non-decision makers give to feel important. Learning how to get past the gateman and the receptionist is a vital skill.
Example: I have come to find out that the decision makers are easier to talk to. The airs around them are less, they are not trying to show you how important they are, they know they are important. It doesn’t have to be the boss, sometimes the bosses are not. Learning to understand structure helps, thinking about who the decision makers were in some of the opportunities we have had puts smiles on my face…that’s stuff for a long talk..lol.
4. Understand your customer or accounts CLON. CLON is my personal way of remembering the items. Conditions, Limitations, Opportunities and Needs. I learnt this 4yrs ago, and believe me, it’s inscribed in my mind somewhere. Your ability to understand these and demonstrate a knowledge of them, gives you the ears of your customer. It means you understand their point of view, you see through their eyes, and you might be able to help them. Conditions means what they are going through, limitations – what is hindering them, opportunities – what they can take advantage of for profit and needs – what they will be grateful if they can be helped with. There is an audio book I have been listening to in the past 3 days – Networking with Millionaires. It will surprise you that the most successful accountants in the world don’t market themselves as accountants, they sell houses, network people with business opportunities, do haulage, just name it. Successful salesmen go beyond the call of duty to meet their customers needs, this way, where else will they go?
Example: Today, we are positioned in such a way, that whatever our customers and club members say they want, we don’t ask, we just go all the way to make it happen. We know their CLON and we are about letting them know we do, and providing help and consultation. Just today, an HR Manager from a 10 man company called me that they want to be a part of the medical opportunity we are offering, if they go to the health care providers themselves it will cost them about 100k per head, but if they come through us, it will cost them 50k, and they will get an opportunity to access many other opportunities. Think CLON!
You can be a best selling author, writer, manager, musician, IT consultant, speaker, Dr, e.t.c. Only commit to developing the skill. I hope you find this helpful.