Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Step One - Do I Like You?

The Enterprise or Project sales process requires formalities not required in a lot of technical work. When you think of it, the craft of selling (or marketing) is one of the last personality-driven and data-rich activities that humans do (other than politics, which I'd argue requires very similar skills). Different from, let's say, engineering, where the craft of coding requires critical thinking, but not relationship management combined with critical thinking. Selling is navigating the emotional ocean of a person, or team...
  1. What risk (money) are they willing to take? 
  2. Who would lose their job if this failed? 
  3. Are these the right features? 
  4. Should we trust them?
  5. Is this really their best price? 
The kind of deep and emotional thinking a prospect will do, when considering a product, is unmatched to almost any other task. Think about it, as a sales leader, I'm pounded with these non-questions while in the sales process. In other words, I have to answer these questions, even though I'm not being asked this, and I have to teach my team this too. And that's what makes people like you, which I argue is probably the most important first step you'll need to accomplish during a presentation - understanding their pains and concerns, before you open your mouth.

Any good Enterprise or Project sales executive knows his/her product. The best, I'd also argue, could run circles around a product manager - they know the customers emotional state and specific feature requirements. The great Enterprise or Project sales executives present project plans, great collateral and demonstrations based on technical features, which add to a narrative that has been well thought out. And all this plays into... Do they like you?

We've all heard the adage: people buy from people they like. Well, it is true, and especially true for Enterprise or Project sales too. Looking deeper at this, the liking part that is, a prospect is really leveraging trust. Does a project believe you, your product features and your vision for supporting improving their operations or revenues. Trust is something you establish with ideas, attitude and data.

Ideas: think of ideas as listening... When are the best ideas developed? We communicate ideas, people think through them and then share a deeper idea. We add to the genetic code of an idea through conversation. Idea sharing is exciting, and that gets people closer to you.

Attitude: think of attitude as humor... Coming into a meeting with no spunk or brand personality is like coming to a potluck with one beer for yourself, and no smile. People love a novel approach, in fact the brain feeds off creativity and learning. So a genuine personality and attitude will get people listening. You don't have to be a clown here, but showcase some spark!

Data: think of data as facts... Your presentation, feature descriptions and personal or team communication is everything! Know your product! Without a keen understanding of the solution, and strong presentation of the data, you lose!

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