The fifth hammer doesn’t contribute beauty and magic by fitting in. The fifth hammer makes a difference by standing out.” – Seth Godin.

Ever said those words? Ever said those words and it worked out? Ever said those words about a new way to engage your buyer?

The #1 challenge all salespeople and sales leaders I speak with face, is the inability to connect with buyers and have that initial conversation, to get their foot in the door, to quote an old cliché.

But the thing is…. if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

What many salespeople are doing are engaging the new tools of social, upgrading their LinkedIn to Premium and Navigator and then using the platform to sell the old way, if they use it at all.

Effectively, they are using outbound tactics when inbound is the lowest cost and highest value vehicle for engaging with potential buyers.

So, to walk my talk and in order to relate to my end clients who are these same salespeople who are getting stuck, my team and myself have tried different real time approaches to engage with potential buyers. Some of the approaches worked and some didn’t.

Consequently, we’ve tested direct mail hand delivered, cold calls, emails, voice-mails and measured follow ups. I personally have met decision makers who don’t give you the time of day, who lie, some who have flatly said no and others who have stood me up. Ironically, some of these same leaders are sadly using the ‘stick motivation’ with their own salespeople who aren’t able to get through to their potential buyers who happen to be just like the leader themselves.

But more so, I have also built brilliant relationships for both long term and short term business opportunities – some that have already converted into clients and some that will convert in the future, not to mention those who may not buy today but have referred locally and globally.

The fact of the matter is some approaches will always work and others won’t because there are always so many variables at play. But you do have to give different approaches that may feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable, a go. It could be in a number of different ways:

  • Asking different questions that aren’t in your normal palette
  • Writing an article on LinkedIn and publishing it. You can be employed as a salesperson and still contribute for the good of your potential clients and the greater community with your ideas. Just check out Tim Hughes from Oracle and from Dan Symons from Westpac NZ.
  • Listen to the words of your existing customers to know what to use for your new buyers

Cyndi Lauper, as successful an artist and saleswomen as she is, was given a fair amount of grief when she approached the record companies to sell an album back in 2000, so she decided to stop listening to them, stopped the usual outbound approach where you are beholden to others and decided to change the rules.

She realised that the album she wanted to sell had been released on the internet under the Indie label and ‘her people’ were attracted to it like moths to a flame. It wasn’t until she was at a concert and decided to sing that same song that she realised the people were singing the words back to her. The key was the people had come to her – the power was literally in the voice of the people – the dynamic had been reversed.

This interview David Meerman Scott did with Cyndi not only tells her story but commercially demonstrates the power of inbound and pull marketing versus outbound and push marketing.We know the model for approaching the buyer is changing – and salespeople have got to also get with the program when it comes to being marketers in addition to having their sales conversations. It is about giving and listening. It is about contribution, context and conviction – the top down layer of my Conscious Selling model.

LinkedIn and Twitter give us this amazing opportunity to showcase our relevance and listen to the voice of our people, our potential buyers, and act accordingly.

Do we want to stand out from the crowd, give away our best stuff for free and then attract and gratefully receive messages, interviews, appointments and business opportunities locally and globally that make their own way to our in-boxes, voice-mails and profiles? Or do we want to just keep doing what we’ve always done but on a different channel – chasing and taking and chasing again!

The channels are there for us and they are effortless and free to access, but what is preventing so many people using them as a powerful tool? Fear of ‘what if it doesn’t work’.

In the words of one of my most favourite songs ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ from the hit show Les Mis, is a similar message:

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?

We have to connect with our buyers by letting them trust us and like us, and for us to show them we are like them in order for us to advance our banner, our brand, our buyer or fall and be left behind.

It is about being human, being OK with sitting eyeball to eyeball and knowing we can directly impact our buyers by shifting our value away from product conversations and creating and marketing a different value.

This new approach might not work, but then I bet it will. Give it a go!

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant

The buyer approach that might just work, so definitely give it a go!

Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.

BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.

Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.

Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.

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Image courtesy of Sindre Wimberger

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