Most sales people are passionate about their product because they see it as important for their clients. However, importance doesn’t make sales happen. They are missing a key ingredient in their sales strategy.
Dr. Stephen Covey, in his book “First Things First,” contrasts importance with urgency. He uses that concept to convey an approach for effective time management. This concept has an application in converting prospects into buyers. Dr. Covey presents this concept in a table with four quadrants where importance and urgency are contrasted. The quadrant where importance meets urgency which is his focus for effective time management is also the key driver of sales. I refer to this quadrant as relevance.
Relevance is the key ingredient that makes sales happen. As a sales person, you have a bag loaded with products/services. And, you are probably passionate about those products as you see them as important. However, prospects don’t buy based on importance. Ah, but you argue that your products solve problems for your prospects. No disagreement here. And, you further argue that these solutions are important for your prospects. Again, no argument from me.
A question…At this moment in time, how many problems do you have? Think of all of them. It’s a big number…and you aren’t trying to solve them all this minute. You’ve organized and prioritized them based on both importance and urgency. Thus, this makes them relevant. Getting your oil changed regularly is important, but when the oil light comes on in your car…it becomes both important and urgent. Both elements are needed to move from an inert state to an active one.
Looking at this from a sales perspective, the urgent issues that your prospects face that are not also important are not acted upon. And, important issues with no urgency also cause a stalemate in the buying process. Without both elements being addressed, you will find that it is difficult to get meetings with key prospects and even harder to get deals to come out of your sales funnel.
Relevance is also a constantly moving target. What is important today is not tomorrow…same with urgency. This means that you need to constantly study these elements relative to your target buying audience.
Often times, sales people focus on improving their sales skills as a means to sell more. “If I can master the price objection, I’ll blow out my quota.” However, this is only half of the equation. Improving sales skills does not help you with sales strategy. The skills provide you with tactics you can use, but they are only effective under the right circumstances. If you don’t know how to position relevance, you will consistently lose to your number one competitor…status quo.
Key steps to ensuring your sales strategy is relevant…
· Revisit your definition of your ideal prospect. The main driver that defines your ideal prospect is constantly in flux, but many don’t regularly revisit the definition of their ideal prospect. Circumstances change, regulations are passed, markets evolve…all factors that affect your selling effectiveness.
· Study your buying players. For all of those who influence the sale of your product/service, where are their eyes focused today? It’s not the same as yesterday and still not the same as tomorrow. It is a constant evolution. What is important/urgent today can become irrelevant tomorrow…If your approach didn’t evolve with them, no sale. Read what your key buying players are reading…and adapt your selling strategy based on where their eyes are focused today.
· Analyze your offering. This is not the trite Sales 101 harangue of features and benefits. This is an in-depth review of the problems that your product/service solves for your ideal prospect. As you study your offering, there is one key point to keep in mind. In the entire history of selling, no company has ever purchased anything. The sale is made between people and when you perform your offering analysis, it is critical that you identify the problems you solve for the key buying players that influence your sale as well as the problems you solve for the company.
· Position relevance for each buying player. It’s a simple question…based on the problems that you solve for your buying players, why should they buy now? Simple question, tough to answer. Challenge yourself! Is your answer to this question…important, urgent, or both. You need both to become relevant…and generate sales.
Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right sales people, 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 a columnist for Sales and Marketing Management Magazine and SalesforceXP Magazine. He is also a passionate, dynamic speaker and a business consultant. Lee can be reached at lsalz@SalesArchitecture.com or 763.416.4321.