by Jeff Beals
If you want to sell more widgets, stop selling widgets.
If you want to sell more real estate, insurance or financial planning services, stop selling real estate, insurance and financial planning services.
If you represent Tupperware, Avon or Pampered Chef, stop selling those things too.
The world’s most successful salespersons don’t sell products and services. They sell VALUE. In other words, instead of selling insurance, you’re selling security, protection and peace of mind. Instead of selling Pampered Chef products, you are selling prestige, coolness and an easier way to prepare gourmet food.
Now, before all you “non-salespersons” stop reading this article, consider this: Regardless of what you do for a living, you are in sales. Everyone sells. Here’s why: 1. If you work for a company, you have a moral obligation to promote that company whenever you have the chance. After all, your job might depend on it. 2. You’re always selling yourself – possibly for a new job, a promotion, a better assignment within an existing job or for perks/benefits. 3. If you have an idea that will make your employer more successful, you may have to sell that idea to the ultimate decision maker. 4. If you are involved in a civic or philanthropic organization, you may have to sell the organization’s mission in order to raise funds and attract volunteers.
Suffice it to say, you are indeed working in sales. Everyone is in sales. That’s why it’s so essential to understand the importance of “value” in your work.
That point was driven home when I attended a recent workshop facilitated by Steve Lishansky, CEO of Boston-based Optimize International, a consulting firm that coaches Fortune 500 company executives. Lishansky teaches that clients are eager to pay for those individuals or companies that provide them with compelling value.
You don’t want to be paid for the job, hour, gig, order, product, showing, presentation, contract, deal, project etc. You want to be paid for the value you bring to the client. And if you do a truly effective job of establishing value, you then can receive regular income from that client on an on-going basis. As Lishansky teaches, you must be seen as an investment, not an expense.
How do you go about convincing a client that you provide great value? Lishansky identifies several prerequisites.
Delivery – Consistently deliver outstanding results. With so much competition in the world, clients have the right to assume that all providers are competent. Make sure you are more than competent in your operations.
Interpersonal Communication – You will have a hard time determining what the client values if you don’t communicate thoroughly and listen carefully.
Relationships and Trust – Do what it takes to build a strong bond with your clients.
In the seminar, Lishansky asked participants to close their eyes and imagine their most difficult clients. Then he asked us what was noticeably different between those clients and our best clients. The answers all came down to relationships. If the relationship is strong enough, you can trust your clients to tell them what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. Even if the client gets mad, your relationship is so strong, that he or she won’t leave you.
Once you establish trust, you pave the way for value, because as Lishansky says, “value lives in your client’s mind.”
Next, we must understand what Lishansky calls the Client Clarity Paradox: 1. You understand what is most important to your client; and 2. You can do something about it. Importantly, numbers 1 and 2 must happen in this exact order. The problem is that many professions get the order backwards. They are too focused on proving they can do something for the client before they take the time to truly understand who the client is, what is important to the client and what problems the client desperately needs to solve.
As you continue moving forward in your career, and you sell whatever it is that you must sell, remember Steve Lishansky’s teachings on value. Focus on the client. Determine what is most important to him or her. Remember that value lives in their minds, not yours.
Ultimately, you are not in the product- or service-selling business. You’re in the results-selling business. The right results, along with a trusting relationship are what your clients truly value.
By the way, you can learn more about Steve Lishansky at OptimizeIntl.com.
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.
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