Yesterday, we pointed out that you need Jack Reacher on your team. Let’s continue to explore the reasons why.
The second strength your sales professionals need to develop is agility. They must be more agile than in the past. Creating stronger relationships with others means letting go of your own perceptions. We spend so much time becoming experts; we fail to see what’s happening with the other person in the conversation. When I started in sales, the first thing they taught you was to look around the client’s office for clues about who they were. The only problem with this is the client is still talking and may be taken off course by a question on their favorite boat or where they went to college. We are so concerned about the small things we miss the big things. In teaching others how to relate we lost the relationship we were trying to establish. By using sales scripts and standard stories we took away the agility to move in the direction the client wanted to take the discussion. Good investigators don’t have a pre-done strategy they follow. You shouldn’t either.
MPs and high quality sales professionals have several key questions that are targeted to specific people within their investigation process. The questions you ask a senior officer will be different than the questions you ask somebody from the front line. These questions are based on who you are dealing with and how far you are in the process. You can create specific questions you want answered but are flexible as to when they are answered. Look for opportunities when it makes sense to ask them.
Jack Reacher remains flexible and looks for opportunities to explore further discussions within his clients. One of the other qualities of intuition is the ability to follow up on things that are not consistent with what you are being told. Good sales professionals challenge clients on their thinking. We will share a whole blog on the challenge approach in the coming weeks.
The final strength Jack Reacher has is sight. What does this mean to your sales professionals? To me, this means putting together a plan to see where opportunities exist in your client’s world. In Jack’s world, it means watching carefully what is happening in front of his eyes. In the sales professional’s day, it means keeping your eyes open and remaining focused on your and your clients’ key goals. With all the noise in the market, it’s easy to be misled. Sometimes clients will lead you down a number of wrong paths before showing you what they really want. Getting to the right path is critical to your sales success. Today many sales professionals try to be all things to their clients and then are surprised when clients choose a specialty partner. Your sales team must know what you do well, challenge what the client wants and then know when to take action.
Inaction is an action, as well. Work with your sales professionals to make sure they are not missing the real action. This is why Jack Reacher makes multiple contacts with multiple people to make sure that he is not being misled. More people mean more noise but the larger the sale, the more people who are going to be involved in the final decision. Most senior leaders use the sales process to enroll their own team in the decision making process. Your best sales professionals look at the different views in the project and incorporate them into their offering. If they won’t do this, the client won’t do it for them. People are too busy today to connect the dots on their own. Your best sales professionals connect the dots and simplify the story to make it easy for the client to choose their solution. So understanding what they are seeing and how the client sees it is critical to their success.
The final quality that your sales professionals must share with Jack Reacher is the willingness to take action when they think the time is right. Striking first can provide significant advantage to your organization. It not only allows you an edge, it can also disrupt your competitors’ strategy. Work with you sales team to help them become more proactive in their closing and also know when to cut their losses. If you’ve helped them develop the other key qualities, you will be in a stronger position to know where to invest your resources moving forward.