Peter Drucker once posed the question, “What business are you in?” Truly this is one of the best questions anyone can ask themselves. Yet, how many people actually do?
For a salesperson, this question needs to be asked at least monthly. It’s too easy for anyone in sales to think they know the benefits the customer is receiving when they buy from us, but the answer to Drucker’s question lies much deeper. It’s what I call the “third vision.” I’ll use myself as an example. People would say I am a sales consultant or a sales motivation expert (and yes, I call myself this occasionally as well). This is the what people see, so we’ll call that the “first vision.”
I, however, like to think of myself as helping salespeople and companies sell more effectively. This then is the “second vision.” The problem is even that doesn’t have any real value until the people with whom I am involved actually create a sale and their customer benefits. This is what I like to refer to as the “third vision.” What this means is I need to focus my sales attention on finding ways to help my customers reach their customers. This is the business I’m in. It’s not about giving speeches or writing articles. Those are merely vehicles I use.
Ask yourself the question, “What business am I in?” Ask your customers that question as well. Better yet, schedule time with each of your customers to ask that question. You likely will be amazed at the strategic dialogue this produces.
Excellent advice, Mark.
It’s easy to get caught up in the secondary or tertiary activities around sales. It’s a timely reminder to remember what all our activities are leading toward…helping the customer get something done.
I really like Clayton Christensen’s “Jobs to Be Done” approach to innovation. What job is your customer trying to get done? It’s a great question to start a discussion of new sales and marketing approaches.
Thanks for the insight!
I’ve always felt that, as a sales professional, I’m in the business of helping prospects make an informed buying decision. This approach includes recommending that they not buy from me if I don’t have the right or best solution to their problem.