If you’ve ever read my blog before, you know that I’m a runner. In fact, I wrote another piece here about training for a half marathon and how it relates to sales. It will probably come as no surprise to you that injuries can happen when you regularly participate in any sport. And earlier this summer, I hurt my leg. And as many athletes do, I denied it for a long time and kept running, which in hindsight was probably stupid and probably did even more damage.
After I realized my stupidity, my next step was to see in orthopedist, have an x-ray, and then an MRI. The final diagnosis was Nothing Serious. No stress fracture. No torn ligaments. Just probably some sort of strain. I blame the new piece of equipment at the Y that replicates pulling a parachute behind you, but I’m no expert.
But I digress. The whole point is a theory called Occam’s Razor. If you’re not familiar with Occam’s Razor you can read a great explanation of it here. But basically, it says that given any question or problem, the simplest answer is usually the correct one. My leg hurt, I strained it, it needed rest. And that got me thinking about people and their sales practice.
Here’s a scenario for you that might be able to illustrate this a little bit better. Let’s say you’ve been selling for some long period of time longer than a decade but less than 50 years. And let’s say that you’ve had a lot of success, brought in a lot of new business, and established lasting relationships that made a lot of money for your company. However, in the last five years, you have found it increasingly difficult to engage with people. People just aren’t picking up the phone. After spending a lot of time lamenting the new generations in the workforce, the increased competition of off shoring and people printing less, you throw up your hands in frustration, and place blame anywhere you can.
In the spirit of Occam’s razor, however, the truth is simpler. You are still a great salesperson who is a master at establishing relationships, solving problems and making money for your company. Only one or two small and relatively simple things need to change. It’s your preferred method of communication and your definition of what a successful interaction looks like that needs a tweak. Not a massive change. Not a complete overhaul of what has been working for you for the last couple of decades. And, unless you are 77 years old and ready to hit the retirement lifestyle, it is NOT time to quit.
A small appreciable change.
So, what might that change look like? It might look like finally establishing a presence on Twitter. It might look like spending five minutes a day on LinkedIn. It might look like following each and every one of your clients and prospects on Facebook to get a better handle on what matters to them, because what they do on social media is a direct line and a direct insight into what they care about, what they’re doing, and what their future holds.
It might also look like changing your goal of each interaction. Instead of “making the sale”, your intent should be to educate, to cultivate, to entertain, and to learn. More sharing, less closing. It seems counter intuitive, but it really is the way the world works today. Everyone who consumes what you put out there will thank you for your knowledge and generosity, and some of them will reward you with work.
Accepting that it’s 2019 and the phone is passé is admittedly a small thing, but it might feel very big to you. It’s hard to make a change when you’ve been doing something for a long time. Believe me – it’s worth it. Conversations are happening on social media. It’s just a truth.
I’ll give you another example of this. My husband and I recently found ourselves needing to replace several appliances in our kitchen. Some number of years ago that would’ve entailed driving to your local Sears, and wandering around, and talking to a salesperson, engaging in a typical customer/salesperson conversation about features and benefits, and then making a purchase and arranging for delivery. Flash-forward to three weeks ago, where my husband did all the research online, decided we wanted to go with a local small business, contacted them, placed the order over the phone, arranged the delivery, and the appliances were delivered and installed a few days later. Now mind you that local business is 5 miles from my house. But there was never any need for us to go into their show room, because we already knew what we wanted, and it was a huge timesaver to just be able to make the call, negotiate the price, and arrange the delivery. That’s the way things go today.
Small changes. It’s time to make them. Today’s the day to start.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcasts From The Printerverse: Achieving Success In Print and Sales with Kelly Mallozzi / Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How