Selling is hard. Is that news to anyone?
As sales people we make it harder than it needs to be. That probably IS news to some!
I’m a performance coach and sales effectiveness trainer. Helping Entrepreneurs and Salespeople to grow more profitable businesses and more effectively influence is what I do. The path that led me to this career involved decades in sales, sales management, and leadership roles.
I feel like I can say with some authority, “Yes, sales is hard BUT we make it MUCH harder than it needs to be!”
At it’s most basic I think we do three fundamental things that add significant difficulty:
- We don’t take the time to identify who our ideal customer is.
- We don’t take the time to understand what our ideal customer gets from our product or service at a deep level.
- We don’t take the time to build our presentation and delivery engines around our ideal customer’s wants and needs.
Did you notice the recurring theme in those 3 items?
If you didn’t, go back and read them again. It’s ok, I’ll wait…
Exactly! The recurring theme is the Ideal Customer.
Does that feel too obvious to you?
I hope it does, but after coaching dozens and dozens of Salespeople, Recruiters, Managers, and Business Owners over the last few years I can’t tell you how many times I hear things like:
- “I know we should be more specialized but (insert excuse)…”
- “Hello John Doe, My name is Gerry Gadoury from XYZ Technical Staffing and I’m calling because we specialize in providing contract, contract to hire, and perm staffing to the New England market…”
- “Hello Mrs. Candidate, I saw your resume online and I wanted to talk to you about a great opportunity with my client. They are a fortune 100 financial institution looking for a Java Developer with 3-5 years of full lifecycle development. Do you have that?
- (Sales Manager/Business Owner): My new sales person is tanking. He’s been onboard for 2-months and he hasn’t produced anything. I’m going to increase his call metrics to 100/day. That’ll get him where he needs to be!
- Me, “What do you specialize in?” Salesperson, “Software development, project management, infrastructure, and QA.”
Do you notice anything about those statements and questions (aside from their extreme awful-ness!)?
Each and every one of them is generic. None of them have any focus to speak of. None of them are targeted at the wants and needs of the prospect. I understand that we want to cast a wide net to catch as many prospects as possible but if our net is so wide and broad that we look and sound like every other firm on the market then what does that say about us?
Commodity = No Control!
When we are overly general differentiation is very difficult. Having a story to tell is very difficult. Connecting with our audience/prospect/candidate is very difficult. Avoiding commoditization is very difficult. If we are just like everyone else why should our prospect work with us?
In short, we make our jobs much more difficult by trying to be everything to everyone.
The more that we specialize, develop a unique selling proposition, and focus on our audience the easier our job becomes.
Easier is NOT the same as easy!
This process starts with adhering to the principles we’ve been talking about on this blog and in the podcast (HERE!):
- You- What about you is unique? (Find your unique selling voice!)
- Your Audience- Who is YOUR ideal customer? What do they want from your product or service? How does it benefit them?
- Your Product/Service- How can you position your product or service to be the most attractive and the most fulfilling for your ideal customer? (If you can’t answer this in the language your ideal customer would use then you don’t know. And if you don’t know you need to go back to step 2 and do more research. This is NOT an optional step!)
These are the reasons why so many Entrepreneurs and Salespeople struggle to make an impact on the marketplace. They don’t have an Ideal Target in mind and in their effort to just get SOMEBODY to buy they fail to reach ANYBODY.
Review your current client list and your current prospect list.
- Look for similarities: Is there a common story I can tell here to capitalize on social proof by sharing success stories of similar prospects?
- Look for differences: Am I casting too wide a net? Do these types of prospects belong on the same list?
- Where have I had the most success in the last year? Am I targeting prospects with similar characteristics?
- Where have I struggled the most? Am I staying away from prospects with these characteristics?
This exercise will help you to identify if you have a cohesive target list. If you don’t, ask yourself if the volume of names on the list is worth the tradeoff. In my experience, it very rarely is…
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