Recently after a conference where I spoke, a salesperson asked for ideas on how he could increase his value.
The question got me thinking, so here’s my list of what you need to be doing to become a top-performing salesperson:
1. Ask your customer questions both you and your customer can’t answer.
Salespeople are famous for asking questions that don’t need to be asked. Flip it around and ask the tough questions that get both you and the customer thinking about the business in a different light.
2. Know your customer’s customers.
Your customer is only buying from you because they have someone else they’re serving. The more you know about your customer’s customers and the more your customer knows you know, the more ways you will find to help them.
3. Share insights your customer can’t find anywhere else.
If all you’re doing is bringing to your customer the same information they can find on the internet, then you will be replaced. Both your customer and your employer will begin to see zero value in you.
4. Stay abreast of the industry and the economy as a whole, and share key learning with your customer.
We all become very focused in what we do. Be the one who helps your customer see the big picture. It’s amazing what you can learn by watching other industries that in turn can help you in yours.
5. Place a premium on your customer’s time.
The only asset you can’t get more of is time. Just as you value your time, value your customer’s time. Remember they have far more things on their list of things to do than just dealing with you and your company.
6. Know what the personal and professional goals are of the person you’re dealing with and the company they represent.
You can’t serve anyone unless you know what they want and where they’re headed. It’s not what you sell that counts, it’s how what you sell helps them achieve their goals.
7. Communicate with the customer using the method they prefer and on their timeline.
No two customers are alike, and just because you prefer email doesn’t mean your customer does. Remember also that different people in the same company will have different preferred communication methods.
Same goes for the time of day or week. To some, the early morning phone call or email is optimal, and to others, it’s best at the end of the day. Your job is to know both — the method and the time and use this knowledge to the benefit of your customer.
8. Demonstrate integrity and leadership in everything you do and say.
You’re a leader first and that means being a leader 24/7, not just when you’re in front of a customer. Integrity doesn’t take time off.
The salesperson who is quick to trash a competitor, shun responsibility by passing blame or fail to own up to the job they’re being asked to do is simply not worthy of being a leader, let alone a salesperson.
9. Be the point person with your own company for the customer.
Regardless of how complex what you sell might be and the number of others involved, it’s still your account. You must be the one who is in control and accepts full responsibility. Be the CEO — Customer Executive Officer.
10. No surprises!
Price changes, order changes, and performance issues are just a few of the “surprises” that can arise at any time. Your job as the CEO (Customer Executive Officer) is to be ahead of the issue with regard to keeping your customer up to speed.
If you can’t always be ahead of the curve, then that is where your display of integrity and leadership come into play by being upfront and assuming full control.
You’ll probably notice I didn’t mention 3 things that most people are thinking it takes to be seen as valuable by a customer. They are: (1) Be on time, (2) Know your product / service well, and (3) Know how what you sell fits into the customer’s business.
I didn’t include those 3 things for one reason — If you’re not doing these three things already, then it’s time you get out of sales. These three are basic, nothing more than the cost of entry.
To me doing these three well doesn’t even deserve a pat on the back. I put these as being on the same list as remembering to breathe and eat. If you want to be the best, you can’t settle for doing what others are doing. To be the best you have to chart your own course.
My suggestion? Print this document, keep it handy, and use it as your guide to finding ways to be seen by your customer as not just a salesperson, but as THE person with whom they want to work.
Copyright 2015, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.