Sales psych: Be Unforgettable to the People Who Matter
The next day you go to work, keep a day-long, mental tabulation of the number of times you hear the word “people.”
I suspect you won’t be doing much tabulating.
Somewhere along the line, corporate America has scrubbed itself clean of Americans, Europeans and Canadians, and, well, people. We all know we’re here, interacting, conducting business, sales, getting hired, getting fired, embarrassing ourselves at Christmas parties. But we’re seldom people people.
Rather, we are employees, clients, vendors, vice presidents, administrators, and the hot barista downstairs. To a degree, that’s fine. Such labels can be harmless if they’re accurate and serve a purpose in alleviating confusion. But so often I witness such labeling used pretty much exclusively — like we’re all scientists discussing various species slogging around a swamp. Humanis Resourcus Directorus.
To one degree or another, we’re ALL performing some version of sales. Dehumanizing those upon whom we depend for a living seems, at the very least, professionally masochistic. Admittedly, it’s easy to brand the receptionist at ABC Company That-bitch-who-never-lets-my-calls-through, when her name is actually Sarah-with-an-h, because, well, she never lets your calls through. How’s that working? Feel better?
Today’s point is two-fold:
1) Recognize the people you deal with professionally are people; and
2) The people you may be dealing with, or unable to reach to deal with, may not be the people you should be dealing with in the first place.
Yes, there are hierarchies and structures, and protocols within most companies. Conventional wisdom tells us authorizations for expenditures come from on high, so that’s who you need to sell to. And yes, if you’re selling a $25 million building in Manhattan, you’re probably right. But the purchase of most of the stuff under that is influenced, if not outright authorized by, the people within the company who use it or know its use is important. Make no mistake, these people matter.
I’m talking about the formidable force that is the administrative assistant, office administrator, Sarah-with-an-h the receptionist, personal assistants, human resources. The real tried and true individual cogs are the ones that, and I say this with the utmost sincerity and respect, keep companies moving. And often, one way or another, they are the gatekeepers. Access granted or access denied. Them.
So to my two points above, in summary, find the people who actually make the decisions and/or grant you access to those who do. They’re often further down the corporate ladder than you may think BUT should be held in the highest esteem.
Armed with this knowledge and attitude, begin building sincere professional relationships with, say it with me…the people who matter.
Here’s how to excel in sales:
It is very likely you are not the only one who sells what you sell. You have competitors, possibly within your own company. Remember, labels work both ways. As far as your Relevant Other within your target companies may be concerned, you’re simply One of Those ______ Salesmen. So make yourself a person to them — and hope that blank describes what it is you sell and not some colorful personal embellishment like “shithead.”
Now, look in the mirror. As an Earthling, you likely have two ears and one mouth. Rock that ratio. Listen more than you talk. What are their problems? What isn’t working for them? If asked, they will very likely tell you what they need rather than, say, clobbering them with a 52-slide PowerPoint presentation telling them what they need.
Get to know them a bit. Keep it professional, but there are safe areas. Dog or cat lover? Athletic? Lush? Great. It is not inappropriate to demonstrate some camaraderie or appreciation with a small gift. Hit me up for my dog bone story. It’s a winner.
The bottom line is you have to stand out and be memorable. From your business cards to how you look to what you remember about someone to the promises you fulfill.
To be certain you sell something they need, let them tell you. Give them the opportunity. When they think of you, be The-guy-who-gets-our-company’s-pain-and-helps-make-it-better.
Sales and sales training expert Frank Bastone can be reached 718 662 8581, or schedule time for a chat here.