Sell: It’s a Four-letter Word
Sell. It’s one of those four-letter words that often conjure the image of a nearly bald man in a bad suit and smoking cheap cigar, trying to sell you a lemon of a car. Our research shows that this perception of sales is impacting you. Your budget, relevance, and tenure are all impacted by your perception of this four-letter word.
1. The Art of Communicating
Selling lost its way for a while. It’s is about communicating the benefits and value of products or services as they relate to the person you’re trying to serve. The goal of selling is to come to a point where value is realized by both parties. At some point in the past 30 years, selling turned into a zero sum game where one party won and the other lost. There’s plenty of blame to go around as to why this happened, but let’s instead focus on what the impact this negative perception has on you. Instead of communicating your value to your organization, you let others arbitrarily assign your value.
When you aren’t engaged with your customers, they undervalue your service and look elsewhere to be served.
2. To Sell Is Human
Daniel Pink’s book, “To Sell Is Human” sheds new light on the importance of communication in the selling process. The old way of selling required buyers to gather information from the sales person. Sellers had all the power, despite the fact the buyer had the money. The seller had the knowledge and was in control.
The Internet changed this. It armed buyers with both knowledge and money, which is forcing the sales process to change. But here’s the key– knowledge of features doesn’t necessarily translate in to an understanding of the value gained.
Customers of IT don’t need details about the tech. Your customers are looking to you to take the information they’ve provided, marry it to the tech, and communicate the value your solution offers to them. Learn what your customer is trying to accomplish, communicate about the outcome you can deliver. That’s it. And that’s selling!
3. Coffee’s for Closers!
If communicating the value you deliver is selling, why are we so negative about sales? Glengarry Glen Ross is a great movie, but a terrible example of selling. Unfortunately, much of our perception of sales is similar to scenes in the movie, from yelling, “Coffee is for closers!” to, “ABC: Always Be Closing.” These catch phrases are 101-level examples of what not to do in sales. But isn’t it that very perception that keeps us from selling?
This is called sales shame, and it’s destructive. It’s also not actually selling. The sooner we realize this isn’t selling, the sooner we can focus on enhancing our value with our customers.
4. Manipulation Isn’t Marketing
Sales shame comes from the awkward feeling we have to manipulate people to convince them to engage with us. Manipulation isn’t selling, nor is it marketing. True marketing and selling rely on a key ingredient: authenticity. We have to authentically connect with our customers and truly understand their pains in order to help them create outcomes that makes them look good.
It’s somewhat cliché to say selling is simply helping people. But that’s the mentality we have to have. We have to truly believe our product or services can deliver value. Then we have to communicate that value to our customers, tying it to the outcome delivered. Once you achieve this, voilà! You’re selling.
Ultimately, your negative perception of marketing and sales is holding you back from connecting with your customers, which is why they’re not engaging your organization and are instead spending their money in the shadows. Go out and communicate the value you bring, let go of the perception of sales shame, and start transforming your IT organization.