I remember competing at the University of Chicago in our conference championship track meet one dreary winter. I had finished my race and was sitting on the sidelines to watch the 60 meter dash. It was cold. Indoor track season in the north is bitter and frigid. The gun went off with six sprinters coming out of the blocks. Then it happened. A loud “pop” sound. A sprinter pulled his hamstring. He was on the sidelines in agony.
He was a well-conditioned athlete ready to race. In colder conditions, sprinters need to do extra warm-up to properly prepare the muscles for competition. Otherwise, painful consequences, such as hamstring pulls, are typical.
I think of that image often in business. I see people’s hamstring pop often. They get on the starting blocks and do not belong there. They haven’t done the preparation to qualify.
Business is not as selective as college sports, however. Any unqualified person can get on the track. Many don’t even realize they are in a competition. They think it is a fun run. Showing up is accomplishment enough. In reality, there is a larger picture, and because most people do not see or operate in this context, they squander opportunity.
What if you approached business, especially the business of selling, with a larger picture? Could you avoid pulling hamstrings needlessly? It takes big picture thinking to ensure victory. Here is what it would look like:
- Preparation. How much of your presentation is left to chance? Doing so creates more opportunities for failure. Take 20 top objections and master the answers to them. Don’t think through academic answers, think through why the person would ask a question in the first place. “I don’t know if I can afford it,” translates into “My perception of your value does not overcome my reluctance to change.” When you are blindsided in a sales conversation, go back to preparation and master your answers. You are not a loser for not anticipating everything. You lose when you do not do the things to win the next time.
- Solutions. Are you a person who has real answers for what a person is trying to accomplish in their business? Or is it about you making a sale? The largest blind spot people have is that they have an inability to truly put themselves in the other person’s shoes. They are thinking about selling, making money and making someone a customer. This is completely irrelevant to the customer. They do not want to be sold, closed or made a customer. They want you to bring true value and drive a solution. Think in terms of their problems and how to solve them and you will become indispensable. Selling follows solutions.
- Connection. Assume this truth – all your customers already have all the friends they need. They are not looking for a friend. They are looking for someone who is bringing continuous value to their ongoing business problems. Heed Rockefeller, “A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.” Connect with your customer in a way to bring the highest level of value you offer. Don’t back-door them with a relationship maneuver. They want to know you are credible and capable first and foremost. Trust develops through competency.
- Perception. Here’s where most sales people blow it. They put most of their energy into charisma and closing. How hard is it to change someone’s perception? It is very difficult, indeed. Read the book, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and you will learn how we operate from rapid cognition. As human beings, we decide, then we think. People make decisions irrationally, then they use their rationality to justify their decision. If you want to win, work on developing the touchpoints which create perception that will position you as an expert rather than a peddler. You will separate yourself from your competition from a four letter word – W-O-R-K. Most will not pay the price of positioning because it takes work and thinking.
If you approach selling with a small picture – closing someone, making money, meeting quota – you are just a salesperson. The world has stereotypes of salespeople for a reason. They can sense the inherent selfish motives.
However, those who can see a bigger picture, think differently. They put their energy and focus into being prepared. They deliver solutions. They connect. They work hard at designing the right perception because they understand how hard it is to undo.
Your mindset will dictate your results. Enlarge your thinking. Do the hard work of a professional, lest you get in a race you are not qualified to run. A true athlete understands there is more to racing than showing up. Likewise, a true professional understands selling is not just showing up. It has a much bigger picture. Get coached through sales training on how to design the approach to win. Click here and learn how to design your approach. You are making a decision to be strategic rather than random. Sell by design rather than desperation.