I have a friend who works for a large carrier and has absolutely been crushing it. Recently, she got a promotion and has already been making waves and getting stuff done. Now why is all this important? You’re about to read why.
My friend has been in the supply chain and logistics world for a bit and has built up an amazing reputation which I can personally attest to. I was thrilled when she said she was moving into a new role, yet also a little sad because it meant that she would no longer be in charge of my account. Now that she has been in this new role for a couple of months, it seems my feelings of sadness are not exclusive to me.
As we recently connected over the phone, she mentioned a few customers had requested, on pain of losing their business, that she stay as their rep. This is huge! Why, because it clearly shows that people are buying her, not her company.
You need to realize that when you are selling something, that people are buying you and not your company. Oh… and by the way, no matter who you are and what your position is you are selling something. The company’s name and reputation may get you in the door, but it certainly won’t close any deals for you or keep customers.
People are buying you and the experience you are giving them. NEVER… forget that.
You want to know why you are losing sales? It’s because you don’t think that deal is possible. Heck, we all do it. We have that conversation, look over the details, crunch the numbers, fail time and time again and we decide that whatever it is, is just impossible to get.
The real issue, it’s that we don’t have realistic expectations of what it will take to accomplish that goal / task / ambition. Plus, we try and push too fast in the relationship and instead of finding out their actual needs and how we can help, we just make the offer… which falls on deaf and/or angry ears.
Please, take a moment to read to this quick story because I promise it will help, even if not right now.
I just closed a deal with someone who has become a great friend over the past few years. His name is Bo Cordell and he is a freaking champion, you should get to know him. Around three years ago he stopped by Tip Top and it was a great meeting. He left with no business in hand, BUT he had started some key relationships with our company. As time went on, I became the traffic manager with sole responsibility of bringing on new carriers and the needs of our company started changing. Beyond that, we spent about a year and a half getting coffee once a month just to shoot the shit, talk shop, and get to know each other even better.
About a year ago he received a fantastic promotion, just another reason that shows how much of a #boss that he is, and he moved back to his home town. Since then, we have had fairly regular calls, one of which further cemented our professional relationship.
After three years, we just closed a deal with his company. It never felt forced, it always felt natural, and the whole time we talked biz we grew our friendship. I can’t wait to see how it continues to grow, especially as we are potentially starting another exciting adventure together with a few others. More details on that to come at a later date.
Ahhhh the infamous gatekeeper. The holder of the keys and the bosses schedule. The one who decides who gets to go beyond the proverbial curtain and see the wizard… too much? Gatekeepers, we all know them, we all struggle with them at times, and in fact, at some point or another we all are one of them. Gatekeepers are an integral part of companies and when they do their job well, they save the person they work with a lot of wasted time and effort.
The question to ask yourself, especially in sales, is how do you get past the gatekeeper, especially when there is one of those convenient no soliciting signs?
What I have seen and experienced work best is when we create a point of connection. To do that, you need to be incredibly observant of your surroundings and the non-verbal cues that individual is giving. To create a point of connection, as you are walking up to that persons desk and starting a conversation, you need to see if there is anything that can be a connection that you can talk about. If there is a picture of their dog on the desk, you can start bringing up their pet and ask questions. You also need to have questions prepared that will help you to go beyond the surface and get you some real information. What I mean is that you don’t just want to find out the dogs name, you also want to see if it has a favorite toy or treat. Once you are loaded with that information, as you follow up with that office again in a couple weeks, you come in to talk to Carol about her dog and you hand her a present for her fur baby that ends up being their favorite kind of toy. As you begin creating this good will and influence with this individual, you are making lots of relational deposits so that when you eventually go for the ask, it doesn’t feel like much of a draw on the relationship because you have already given so much.
If there are not any pictures to draw some data from, you have to be armed with some general questions that will lead to uncommon commonalities. Not only that, you have to realize that surprisingly enough, they don’t want to spend all day with you. That being said, getting past the gatekeeper takes time. As you focus on forming a genuine connection instead of getting past them, opportunities to do just that will start to pop up. Maybe instead of dropping off just your business card, you stop on by with a handful of gift cards for a local restaurant or coffee shop for the gatekeeper to use and share with others in the office. Maybe you bring by handwritten thank you cards. Maybe you don’t go straight for the person who you eventually need to meet, but instead you start to meet other people of influence at the company like the people who run the warehouse. Remember, the person you think you need to meet may not actually be the one to get you the business.
Think about doing business differently and start thinking about how you can form common points of connection that just may lead to the opportunity for you to make a sale.