As we move deeper into the world of selling to the top level people in prospect and customer organizations, you must be ready to a critical choice. This choice is about being and acting like a Peer or Sales Person.
I realize you are a sales person and probably have a business card with the words Sales Person on it. While it is time to change that to Business Advisor or Consultant.
Here is the issue. Top level people do not want to be sold anything by anybody. What they want to do is buy from someone they believe is there to help them, advise them or provide expertise to them on a topic of interest – to them – not to you or your company. Interesting situation you are placed into by the top level decision makers.
Back to the choice and the consequences of the direction you take…
First, as a Sales Person. The top people see you as self-promoting your product or services. They also see a higher cost attached to buying from you due to commissions and bonus plans – they are aware of or assume. As soon as you take the position of selling – they are ready to send you down the line or organization chart to a person who handles what you sell.
You have now been sent to the “productivity zone of buying” which is closely related to the “commodity zone” of low prices and many bidding opportunities. There is very little value added pricing or premium pricing in this zone. Lower prices and following their terms is the name of the game.
Second, you choose the path of Peer. You have moved to the front of the line to access into the inner chambers of decision making. You see, peers do not sell anything. They discuss options, opportunities, returns on investment and payback periods. More importantly, they talk about opportunities for growth and differentiators to separate the enterprise in the crowded marketplace.
The peer has too to master the art of questioning rather the old school presentation model based upon endless talking or telling others what to do. The wise peer knows it is all about asking questions and allowing for self-discovery.
The of questioning is all about assisting the decision maker in thinking about all the issues and possible solutions, dialogues about what the ideal looks like the decision maker, testing the vision of the leader regarding their ideal.
As you master the art of questioning, you benefit from the acquired trust and credibility assigned to you by the customer or prospect. This is your most valuable asset – a trusted relationship with a key decision maker. Be a peer discussing and dialoguing about industry trends, best practices, and new methods in getting the customer to the top of their marketplace.
Remember, the choice is yours and yours alone. If you talk the talk, yet bring a sales presentation as soon as a problem is uncovered – you are not walking your talk. In fact, you have violated the trust pack and will be sent to the lower levels – never to return to the top level again!
Be smart and be consistent and you will become the peer of choice for your customers and prospects.