With the articles I am writing and publishing on LinkedIn Publisher, in order to help salespeople bridge their corporate goals and KPI’s with their ability to generate those outcomes, my husband Tim, suggested to me that I could really only write so much on the topic of sales before I ran out of ideas.
And that is where I politely told him he was wrong! I told him that sharing ideas around increasing sales wasn’t just writing about how to make sales.
So to get me to prove my point, he dared me to close my eyes, spin around twice and whatever I pointed at, I was to write about. Being in our lounge room, I closed my eyes spun around a couple of times, pointed and then opened my eyes to see that my finger was hovering over a photo of our daughter.
‘Link THAT to sales!’ he laughed.
So I am.
I am, because when I looked at this photo I realised that there was so much more to this photo than what I was looking at. Just like selling is about so much more than the process of making a sale. So much more than the words you use when you make a call, or whether the time you call is the right or wrong time or how important a buyers business card title really is.
It’s about keeping your eye on the end result and knowing what that result really is, it’s focusing with precision on the task at hand and making sure you are individually ready in order to be totally effective.
And when my eyes were drawn to the photo of our daughter on exercise before she left for the Middle East it dawned on me, just as her entry level role as an aircraft woman was the beginning of a leadership journey, sales too, is a leadership journey.
And just as she moved through the ranks of Leading Aircraft Woman, Corporal, Acting Sergeant and just a few weeks ago promoted to Sergeant, all within a very short window of ten years, salespeople too have a window of opportunity and growth – through what I have coined The Sales Triad, or the three levels of leadership.
For any person in the military, regardless of air, army or navy, personnel must be what’s referred to as ‘individually ready’, in the event they get called up to deploy at the drop of a hat. They need to be physically capable, medically fit and be able to accurately shoot on target. Not dissimilar to a salesperson being prepared for a conversation or called upon to demonstrate a product or being asked to deliver an impromptu presentation. Where they have to know how to connect, create trust and be agile enough to duck and weave or pitch and catch with the buyers who like to play hard ball.
It’s about taking what you know at a content and product knowledge level and weaving it together with your business acumen to create a higher level conversation where the point you are making or the questions you are asking have real meaning to the buyer. Imagine being responsible for pulling the trigger and you didn’t understand the bigger picture or what the ramifications would be if you did. Where you simply sprayed and prayed with a random machine gun approach as opposed to taking targeted and precise focused shots. It’s all about understanding the meaning and point you want to make within the conversations you have and knowing how.
So, if the outcome is to contribute to our buyers business through the acceptance and implementation of our solution, as well as our ability to lead all parties towards that outcome, then with that must come responsibility, skills and an intention to serve the buyer for us to be truly successful. Not dissimilar to that of our military personnel. Their ultimate responsibilities, underpinned by their learned skills in negotiation, communication, execution and marksmanship also parallel their intention to serve our country and its people – their ultimate customers.
The photo above is our daughter, Danielle and we are extremely proud to know that in the capacity of her leadership role, we are all in safer hands. Her leadership skills are second to none and been tested in the most arduous ways.
What we have learnt through her example is the importance of:
• being prepared
• backing yourself
• trusting in your team
• creating the right kind of tension in those around you
• understanding the context of why you are doing what you are doing
• making the hard calls
• not compromising your values and
• having an intention to serve
So, as a tongue in cheek message to my husband;
Yes! The essence of selling is more than the sale! Which is why salespeople must be exposed to incremental skills that teach them to have nine (9) value driven conversations of which conviction, context and contribution are just three.
And in this instance?
Well, this photo shows us, as parents, nothing but true servant leadership and isn’t that the epitome of real deal selling?
Be Bold and Brilliant!
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Image courtesy of Danielle McClelland