Salespeople are Really R&D People

Companies are rarely able to look at everything they need to look at.

Today’s business environment is moving too quickly for anyone to understand fully everything they could either benefit from or be at risk of being harmed by.  The salesperson is in the role of helping their customers learn what they don’t know — but need to know.

You are your customer’s research and development department.

Many times when I share this with sales teams, I am met with a look of  “I hadn’t thought that way before.”   The beauty of thinking this way is it changes how you prepare for sales calls and it changes the tone and nature of the questions you ask the customer.

When we see ourselves as being our customer’s research and development department, it moves us to a higher level in what we look at.  We now see ourselves as having to be on the forefront of gathering and understanding information we can share with our customers.

This means being pro-active in teaching our customers above and beyond what we’re selling.

If you’re a salesperson operating in a key account or major account environment, thinking this way is absolutely essential.  By viewing yourself as the R&D department for your customers, you will develop relationships with others and you will be even more valuable to your customers.

The ultimate measure of your success is when your customer begins to ask you questions that go beyond what it is you sell. When you are asked these types of questions, you will know the customer views you as a strategic asset to their business.

For the salesperson who spends their time prospecting or dealing with a large number of customers, this concept still has value.  By seeing yourself as an R&D person and spending time becoming knowledgeable in issues that affect your customer, you will be more prepared for whatever type of question a customer may throw at you.

The added knowledge you have on things will provide you with more confidence and competence, which will carry over into whatever type of sales call you may find yourself in.

One final note is to not limit yourself to only using this new information you’ve learned when you’re on sales calls. Use the information in phone calls and in emails as a way to get customers thinking.

One of the best ways to do this is by sharing only part of the information and following it with a question.   Your goal with this approach is to generate further discussion, whether it be in person or on the telephone.

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.


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