Most organisations I work with have a mission statement, vision statement, cultural beliefs or other stated values they hold dear. I am often amazed at the extent to which companies invest in this great work, and yet the people in the organisation do not adhere to or ‘behave’, meaning they don’t always ‘walk the talk’.
For me, that’s only part of the complication of living our values and beliefs. In sales and business development roles, the further complication comes when we need to think hard about our values and beliefs each time we engage with a prospect or customer. For me, the biggest question when preparing for a prospect or customer meeting is…
What’s your INTENT?
Stop a moment and ask yourself this… If you were a customer or potential customer and you were meeting a salesperson called John for the second or third time, would your initial reaction be…
‘Here comes that sleazy, smarmy, sneaky sales person again.’
‘Here’s John again. I’m looking forward to another productive discussion today.’
The chosen option relates to the intent you displayed at your last interaction, and each of these options (there could be more than 2) results in a different level of interaction and dialogue.
I appreciate that it’s hard to keep good intent when you have a challenging target or need to close another deal to hit quota. It’s easy to drift into manipulative or desperate behaviour.
Here’s why you have to keep the good intent…
Prospects or customers are unlikely to share their beliefs or trust your advice unless they trust your intent. Is the intent of your questions and recommendations to help them get what they want in a way they feel good about? Or is your intent to help you get what you want in a way you feel good about?
Any prospect or customer can sense this. When it comes to intent, most salespeople, rightly or wrongly, are judged guilty until proven innocent.
If your intent truly serves the interests of your prospective client, as well as your own, you can act congruently with that intent. Trust will increase, mutual understanding will increase, and you will more often arrive at solutions that actually meet your prospective clients’ needs, rather than bombarding them with your well-rehearsed features and functionality pitch.
Focus on their needs – not your products or services.
Your Intent should be to focus firstly on the success of your customer or prospect, and then on your own success – absolutely in that order – ALWAYS!
I’ve heard this quote from Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of GE many times:
“One thing we’ve discovered with certainty is that anything we do that makes the customer more successful, inevitably results in a financial return for us.”
Jack was a shrewd leader and recognised that trust comes from confidence in and respect for the other person in the relationship. To create confidence and respect, you must see prospecting and ‘needs analysis’ discussions as developing meaningful relationships with people. Trust will follow.
There is a level at which we and our prospects and customers share mutual interests. It’s up to us to find and communicate it. If our prospects or customers do not perceive they’re having a discussion based on what they really need to help them succeed, our sincere intent allows them to choose to do nothing or go elsewhere to meet those needs. A ‘no’ in this kind of environment is not necessarily rejection. It often leaves the door open to future positive interactions with prospective clients.
You can develop your intent deliberately and consistently. Before every meeting with a customer or prospect, take a few minutes and recall what good intent looks and feels like. Think about the way you might ask questions and keep an open mind. Think about how you will stay focused on them, and not your products or services. What would they have to see, feel or believe to engage openly in dialogue with you?
Finally, remember that if your intent is not crystal clear to you, it’s highly unlikely that it will be clear to your prospect or customer.
The Sales Coach www.thrivesalescoaching.co.uk