Many top sales experts have advocated for some time that the days of using broadcast advertising and gimmicky sales techniques are behind us. This applies especially to complex professional services selling. To be heard you need to have great content and build great relationships with potential clients and referral sources. Business relationships are not built on the sales person's personality, but instead are built on being a valued resource to your prospects and sources.
Give to get.
In The Go-Giver by Bob Burg (Endless Referrals) and John David Mann, the authors utilize a fable to effectively explain the "giving to get" sales model. Their business fable focuses on a man named Joe. Joe is a go-getter who did "a lot of going but not a lot of getting." Throughout the fable, Joe learns "the five laws of stratospheric success" (first introduced in the authors' previous book). In The Go-Giver, Burg and Mann expand on each of those five principles by bringing real stories about real people into the mix.
Five Laws of Stratospheric Success
- The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
- Law of Compensation: Income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
- Law of Influence: Influence grows when one places a great importance on others’ needs.
- Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift to offer is oneself.
- Law of Receptivity: In order to continue giving effectively, one must stay open to receiving.
The Go-Giver laws lead to a more satisfying career for professional sales people. Let's face it: professional sales people, regardless of how successful or professional they individually are, receive a lot of baggage from the reputation created by some individuals in the industry. Following the laws of the Go-Givers can lead to a mindset change where they are genuinely making a difference to their prospects and clients through their efforts. As a result, they will find that they are more successful at closing business and being more fulfilled in their career.
Re-frame your approach.
To give one example, a colleague of mine knows that I like to learn about new tech productivity tools and apps. Therefore, in most of his communications with me, he passes along a tech tip that he's come across. The extra time it took puts this person higher in my relationship value and keeps them top of mind when I'm looking to solve a problem.
How can someone become a go-giver? Lead with questions. Frame that first conversation to find out everything about their situation; who they are, what they like, what does the business do, what are they working on. Only once they've realized they haven't asked a question yet do you talk about yourself. This gives you all the information you need to tailor the conversation to how your new relationship can grow.
Practice makes perfect.
One of the easiest ways to practice this new approach is when you are building connections on LinkedIn. It's so common now to receive a request and then they immediately try to sell something. The likelihood that the person on the other end is connecting with you at the exact moment they were looking for someone like you I extremely low. So instead ask them some questions about their work right now. Learn what stage in the customer journey they are in so that you can better help them.
Despite the considerable literature that exists on the "give first" sales model, especially working with referral sources, my experience is that those individuals that take the time to give first are still rare and indeed stand out.
The Alternative Board has drafted some tactics on sales enablement that tackle some of the more complex tactics like drafting a unique selling proposition.