Right there next to lawyer, there may be no job title on the planet that is less trusted than that of the sales professional.
Words like slimy, smarmy and manipulative come top of mind. In fact, of the top 30 words that come to mind when people are asked to describe a sales professional, only 1 in 6 is positive.
Throughout times, consumers and businesses were often stuck dealing with sales professionals who controlled the conversation. The more they knew they had what the buyer wanted, the more they could perpetuate the negative stereotypes of sales professionals. This behavior may be the reason that so many people don’t have a positive image of the sales profession.
However, whether the word sales is in our professional title or not, which for 1 in every 9 people it is, we are all selling. All of this, according to Daniel Pink is a reflection of selling in the new economy. The economy where informed buyers surrounded by information, choices and ways to talk back to brands control the sales conversation.
No longer buyer beware, we are in the economy of “Seller Beware.”
Perhaps no introduction is required for Daniel Pink, but with such an accomplished background one is certainly deserved, and having the chance to see him present at the NSCA Business and Leadership conference this past week was an absolute pleasure.
Daniel Pink is a multi-time New York Times best selling author including “Drive” and his most recent “To Sell Is Human” and the recognition he has received is well worth it.
The Consumer Has Taken Back The Power; What Sales Can Do About It?
When you have the opportunity to listen to a speaker like Dan Pink speak for nearly 2 hours there isn’t a takeaway, there are takeaways; many in fact. For me, it was all about what the sales professional could do to stand out in a world where information is abundant.
For most businesses, big and small, trying to stand out in a noisy cluttered marketplace, this is a huge challenge. To this, Mr. Pink had some advice.
In an epic shift from “Glengarry Glen Ross” where Alec Baldwin introduces the ABC’s of selling, “Always Be Closing,” Pink offers a new take on ABC.
Attunement: This is where sales professionals need to get out of their own head and try to see what the customer sees. A combination of empathy and insight where we try to not only consider what the buyer is thinking, but also what they are feeling.
Buoyancy: In sales we don’t face a pond of rejection; we face an ocean. The more you can get over that rejection and move on quickly, the better off you will be.
Clarity: Less about promoting and pushing what you have to offer and more about understanding the customer’s problem and then positioning how your offer can help. Pink furthers this by saying the best at sales are moving from problem solving to problem finding. Stepping ahead of what is obvious and giving clarity to the customer about what is coming next.
I can say first hand that the ability to help the customer better understand not only what the problem is, but provide context around the implications of the problem is the best way to be attuned to the customer; almost as if attunement drives clarity. However, even when we provide near perfect alignment between our offerings and our clients, at times (many times) we will still hear no which is where buoyancy becomes so important.
Another Important Observation From Pink’s Presentation
In a world where storytelling provides immediate connectedness between people, Pink is the ultimate example of how story telling makes important data and information relevant to all.
While there is no question whatsoever that Pink brings tremendous research and experience to the table, much of what he offered when you boil it down is really things we already understood.
Ideas like being genuine, imitation as a form of flattery and being a bit of a “Chameleon” as a way to sell more. This isn’t so much a new idea, but it becomes impressively obvious when learned through a storyteller like Pink.
For brands that want to sell more, better storytelling should be at the center of their strategy. Online and offline, as a way to sell and market, tell a better story and you will captivate more customers.
If you don’t believe me, go see Pink for yourself, I guarantee you will be impressed.