Why is sales hated so much?
Probably because it’s hard, nuanced, and most people do it wrong 🙅♀️
I sat down with Dr. Jim Kanichirayil, self-described “professional megaphone”, focussed on highlighting innovation in DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) and HR tech, to talk about how we can begin to reframe our relationship with the act of selling. A VITAL skill as we stare recession in the face.
Think about this: sales from a functional perspective has been operating with the same playbook since the early 1980s. There are still large pockets of sales leaders who employ old plays. Many are completely ignorant of how buyer behavior has changed and how the world works post-pandy. And when you pair that with the state of the marketplace right now, with layoffs, fear, budget-cutting, and more, the numbers will not add up. “Sales is overdue for a radical transformation. And if that doesn’t happen, we’re dead as sellers.” Dr Jim says.
Where do we begin to look for effective revenue solutions in a recession?
First let’s look at what not to do! Her are three factors that will add up to a negative revenue outlook 👇
- Treating sales like a numbers game
- “Carpet bombing your entire prospect universe” to get attention (This will make for a lot of outbound actions that are not sustainable.)
- Lack of knowledge of the purchase process among your customers
How do we start fixing these rampant sales problems? (and make sure our organizations are not guilty of continuing to waste our time on these ineffectual moves?)
Step one: Construct a customer-focussed attraction model
Dr Jim firmly points us in the direction of revenue. This means ditching the notion that sales and marketing are separate roles. Instead, the organization that will weather the recession trials ahead of us over the next 18 – 24 months, will be structured as revenue organizations.
A successful pivot for small businesses, with revenues under 5M, will be to deeply leverage your intrinsic integration (and lack of silos). This along with agility will help you scale a strongly revenue-focussed organization that thrives in addressing the issues that your customers are facing much more easily than larger organizations can.
Begin by debunking the myth that one guru can give you all the answers.
Instead, use all the available tools possible to connect with your customer and find those big hairy problems you can solve.
Step two: Build a clear and powerful voice.
If you’re in a founder-led organization, or if you’re the leader of an organization who is closely involved in revenue, you need to be unafraid of having a strong point of view. The interwebs are chock-full of vanilla word-salads, and it’s really not that hard to show up with a clear and compelling perspective that will get people to remember you.
(If you haven’t read it yet, this feels like a great spot for me to plug my book – UNboring: Take your content marketing from blah to brilliant. In it I give you 10 lessons to show up online in a way that isn’t an instant snoozefest!)
How to talk to strangers: A step-by step sales guide
If there’s one thing that’s hated most within sales, it has got to be “the cold call”. So I called Dr Jim to the rescue; asking how do we ease our discomfort around doing outreach in general – whether via email, phone, or carrier pigeon??!
Here’s his recommended 8-step framework to make friends with almost anyone.
- Have a clear process in place for your revenue attraction model
- Have a defined pool of people that might be interested in what you have to say
- Get committed to the process of earning a relationship with these people
- Do this by GENUINELY being interested in the person that you’re trying to connect with
- Have a clear point of view on the subject at hand
- Open the conversation with one of 2 core pieces of information about them:
- Knowledge, at a deep level, of the niche problems that the person typically faces (ie: the “pain point”)
- Knowledge of something that’s interesting about the individual’s background (this could be common past organizations, associations, school alumni. Maybe a common sport or life stage.)
- Get noticed by having an interesting or contrarian opinion – “poke the bear” or “pick a (non-violent) fight”! (A low pressure way to do this is on common ground – ie: a common connections thread; or an industry group event)
- Once the openers go well, ask for their expertise on your content marketing platform (like a podcast, an interview for a book chapter, a YouTube video series). Invite them to the conversation with specifics on the problem you’re tackling and how their use case may be beneficial to your audiences (everyone loves to teach, so the answer to this will rarely be “no”)
With this type of approach, can you see how instead of making yourself the star of the show, you’ve pivoted and made your prospect the star? The number one problem that sellers in small businesses (startup or scaleup) have to solve is ‘how do I get in front of more people and have more conversations?’ This intentional approach will get you there because it’s rooted in listening and relationships.
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