“To Sell is Human” is the name of a new book by Daniel Pink, the premise of which is that everyone sells-- even if they don’t think they do. What salespeople sometimes forget is that everyone in your company is a “client” even if they don’t look like one. Ignore these people at your peril. This was recently brought home in spades to super sales woman Rita X.
Rita works for an online company and had closed a really nice new piece of business for her firm, but she nearly lost it when her product management department missed a promised delivery deadline. How could that have happened? Rita had written very clear memos to the appropriate people with the deadlines clearly delineated. They had even met and agreed to her timetable. And then, disaster! They missed the deadline.
When Rita questioned Dean, the head of the department, she was given a wagon load of excuses: John,who was supposed to work on her project, “had to go out of town for a few days on business;” Seena, who was supposed to coordinate other aspects of the project, “had her priorities changed when a senior manager stole her for his project.” On and on went the explanations.
Long story, short, Rita, furious, but determined, eventually saved the business.
What Rita Forgot
When I met Rita for coffee shortly after this crisis had passed, Rita reflected on what had happened and said she realized three things:
- 1. Internal corporate relationships are just as important as the external client relationship. Make everyone feel a part of the process. Talk to them periodically when you don’t need anything from them. Remember personal things about key internal people and acknowledge them at the appropriate times. Thank them for a job well done after a tough assignment. Work to become the number one priority on their to-do list. You are not competing for their business, but you are competing for their time, resources, and attention.
- 2. Ask questions for no surprise results. Just as with clients, assume nothing. Find out who will be involved in getting the product out? What could go wrong? What contingency plans are there? What other resources are needed?
- 3. Collaborate. Don’t dictate. Keep a “we” focus in communications. “We just landed account X and we will need to get product to them by…” vs. “I just landed account X and I need you to…” “In our meeting next week, we will set up…” vs. “I need you to attend a planning meeting next week where I will layout the time table…” Spread the ownership for success.
Good insights to remember.
How strong are your relationships with the internal people who must deliver on the promises you make to your clients?
1.Chris Brogan (NY Times bestselling author) interviews Mitch Jackson (CA Trial Lawyer of the Year) about how to communicate effectively, make an impact, and close deals. Many good tips for anyone who sells.
2.New resource for small business owners “Small Business Digest,” packed with really good ideas (including my column “Last Word”)
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“Creating & Delivering Winning Presentations” webinar for digital ad sales reps. Nearly 3 hours of specific, step-by-step information, tips, strategies and examples to give you a competitive edge in your market. Work at your own pace. (Offered in partnership with, and available exclusively via, the Laredo Group Institute.) Preview here.
Words Matter - Make What You Say Pay!
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