When I ask sales people about what is their professional image in sales, I get a lot of “dear in the highlights” looks. Most sales people don’t think about what their professional image may appear to be in the eyes of their customers and prospects – much less to themselves. Which in most cases is why the majority of sales people occupy the lower half of the successful sales people list.
This is really an important question to ask and to give a truthful and honest assessment of how customers and prospects see you. Now, some believe I’m talking about what you wear or how you fix your hair. Well, while these things manner to a small group of people, there a more important issues at play. Let’s look into what is professional image and how does it impact your sales success?Okay, so what is professional image? It is the image you display in the mind of the customer or prospect. It is the same image that can change rapidly from the time of first impressions to becoming a trusted advisor to the customer. It is your actions that help the customer see you as a professional sales person.
The interesting thing is all sales people begin at the same point in the mind of the prospect – no interested in a “sales person” since you are in sales. Now that sounds a little harsh, yet, it is how most prospects see sales people – as pushy, lying, arrogant, self-centered, talk too much blowhards and have no interest in my well being, they only want to sell me something. Sometimes I wonder how we can sell anything in this environment!
So, how do you brake out of this model? Simple, by modeling the successful professionals and what they do to create the professional image for b2b sales. There are couple things you can do to change how your prospects and customers see you. Here are a few of the ways…
- Prepare – If you have done your homework before showing up for a meeting, you get points as a professional. This is the easiest method to use and it prepares you for a couple of additional steps.
- Think – I know this sounds corny, yet, professionals I know think about a prospect’s situation. They review the data they have uncovered in their basic research of a prospect. They look at the data to uncover trends in their industry and who are their major competitors. Take time to study and think about the relationship to trends and performance.
- Plan – Professionals plan their first call more than any other call because they know there are more unknowns at this point. So they want to have a plan for approaching this prospect and getting their attention early in the process.
- Look for Problems – The professional sales person is looking for problems they can fix. Here is where an individual can separate themself from the “thundering herd” of sales people calling on a prospect. By looking for problems, the professional focuses upon asking questions that get the prospect to stop and think about their issues. The best thing you can do is ask questions that help the prospect uncover issues and problems in their area of responsibility.
- Get Others Involved – The sales professional in b2b sales sees their role as a coordinator of other technical or specialty people in a sales environment. The coordinate interaction between their company and others within the prospect company. This gets everyone involved, thus increasing the possibility of a commitment to do business with you – the sales professional.
There you have five keys for elevating your professional image in the eyes of your prospects and customers. Use these with every prospect and you will get more business each year. Why? Because people want to work with professionals who know what they are doing and most importantly – deliver consistent results.
Remember, you main job as a sales professional is to talk about problems and potential problems and the possible consequences of these problems. Talking about the details of your product or service is what commodity sales people and inexperienced sales people do everyday.
Join the ranks of the sales professionals by studying the prospect and their industry, looking for clues for problems, designing questions to uncover or confirm problems and their consequences and network within your own company to find the best sales- oriented specialist to assist you with the sales process. When you do these well, you will be a sales professional in the eyes of the customer – the only ones that really count.