The Client Delusion
Alas! The client-sales relationship. It used to be so simple! When I started it was, ‘I’m Almighty Client and you’re just a low life salesperson, about as trustworthy as a profile photo in a dating App’.
I loved it! There was comfort knowing Almighty Client knew it all and didn’t want to waste time with my input (not that I had any).
All his requirements were mapped out on a ‘120-slide-this-should-not-take-long-power-point-presentation’ containing enough data to rival the human genome.
Was I intimidated? Of course not. I had my ‘techie expert’ translating it into a workable solution. Me? I’d just sit back and do the numbers, my commission numbers that is.
Once the deal closed I was home free. Things go wrong? Blame ‘techie expert‘, blame the users, the client, global warming, the peace process, blame our DNA. Just don’t blame me, I’m just the salesperson. It was bliss!
Well those days are OVER. And I’m not liking it one bit. Who wants to hear Almighty Client doubtfully say ‘With the market changing so fast, we’re not sure about our future requirements. Could you help?’
Are you out of your mind? Don’t you remember I’m a low life salesperson as reliable as the UK’s weather forecast?
I don’t want to be ‘part of the process’ or worse still, ‘share responsibility’. That sounds like consulting. I don’t want to be a consultant. All the consultants I know are out of work.
I should be happy. After years of trying to improve our reputation employing techniques such as TRUST SELLING, RELATIONSHIP SELLING, STRATEGIC SELLING (which all boil down to don’t be a financially driven piece of manure SELLING) clients now trust us.
And it’s not only sales people that have changed, so has technology. New products crop up so fast that yesterday’s best buy could be tomorrow’s Amazon Ring (remember? In 2020 those models were catching fire leading to a product recall). Trust me your client doesn’t want to be caught holding that firecracker.
So here are three key areas where we sales people should be ready to kick a$$, or as a polite person would say, bring our expertise and excel:
Yes MARKETING’s beautiful people provide substantial stats, great graphs and awesome arrows (pointing nowhere), however they’re unlikely to get their designer shoes dirty on the street. Sales does. We get first-hand information on what works, what doesn’t, how, when and why. We have more data than they have shoes. (I.E., a lot).
Gone are the days when we knew little to nothing about our products and services and relied on ‘techie expert’. All we have left is that old joke: What do you call a ‘techie’ when he turns 30? Your boss.
Today salespeople know products inside out, left to right, up and down and when required, we can even get into ‘techie-talk’ (yawn zzzzzz). This know-how assures the client a successful project. Let’s face it – nobody does it better than sales. (OK, maybe modesty is not one of my strong suits).
Remember that saying: keep your friends close, your competition closer. Not only because it’s key to selling, but I’ve always thought that if things get pear shaped the competition is the first point of call. I’m not proud. I’m in sales.
In summary – the Client-Sales relationship has changed for the better. Sales are not only key in helping the client find a solution, we stick around and make it work.
That’s enough sales talk. I’m going for a coffee, because things might have changed, but as Alex Baldwin says in the ultimate sales play/film Glengarry Glen Ross, ‘Coffee’s for closers only’.
Sonia Aste is an engineer, writer, comedian and a sales gal who likes to close on a ‘high’ (caffeine content).
(*) Film Glengarry Glen Ross adapted by David Mamet from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Watch the scene here.
Published by Portfolio People
Published by Riverspeak Toastmasters International