Bake The Cake
Two words that will lead to great professional success for you, patience and cultivation. Most companies miss this and most sales professionals miss this (FYI, these are also great points for people that are looking for a job or might look for a job in the future).
THE TALE OF THE GREAT SALES MANAGER
I frequently tell people that I had a great relationship with my direct manager at the last company I worked for. We would frequently discuss sales and sales process along with my accounts. She knew the status of every one of my accounts as well as I did ( if not better) because we always discussed them in great detail. She would frequently ask me if we had a chance to bring in one account or another within the current sales month and the majority of the time I would tell her "Sorry boss, that cake, is not yet baked." Then we would move on to the next opportunity.
"BAKE THE CAKE?" WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
If you are working on a sale or building a relationship on LinkedIn you need two things, you need the right ingredients and time. Those two equal "Bake The Cake."
THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS
Think about it for a moment. If you try to bake a cake without sugar (it would taste more like bread and probably not very good). If you forget butter or eggs, it wont be moist enough. If you decide not to use flour, well, I don't know what you would get, but I am guessing it won't be cake, The sales process has ingredients. First, it has you and the customer. Then it has your company and the customer's needs. Then, your solutions that fit the customer's needs. You also need to fit the customer's budget. Perhaps the most important ingredient, is trust. The customer needs to trust that, you as the salesperson (and your company) can deliver the solution they need. You need to be able to trust the customer is being upfront and transparent with you. How do you build trust?
You can build trust several ways. Trust is often given when you are referred to someone by another person they already trust ( I call this borrowed trust & it is VERY powerful). The trust you are given is based on the amount of trust your potential client has with the person who referred you. Trust can also be built by your company reputation and your personal reputation. If your company reputation suffers (or your own personal one) that is a red flag. You should work to improve yours. You should work with senior level members of your company to discuss how you can fix the company brand. YES! Company reputation is that important.
THE SECOND AND POSSIBLY MOST VALUABLE KEY TO SUCCESS
If the recipe calls for you to bake your cake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, chances are that amount of time and temperature will consistently produce a well cooked cake. What happens if you turn the heat up to around 450 degrees and reduce the time to 30 minutes (like when a sales rep tries to make their number this month)? What you usually end up with is something inedible, it is burnt on the outside and uncooked in the middle. It smells awful and tastes even worse. What if you reduced the heat to 250 degrees and cooked it for an hour? Chances are you will suck out all the moisture and end up with a brick that is only good for holding the door open. During the sales process, your client will give you indicators that they are permitting you to move to the next stage in the process. The common term for this is "buying signs," I hate that phrase, it is so much more subtle than a sign. What you as a sales person want to do, is make sure you have all the right ingredients and make sure you are getting approval (from the customer) for each stage of the process. Sometimes a customer will not allow you to the next stage, guess what, you go back. There is some trust missing from that last step. Maybe the customers feels like you didn't address their needs. Maybe the customer feels like you weren't listening to them. Maybe the customer feels like you are rushing the process along. The process moves at your customers pace, learn to embrace that and you will be much happier and productive.
TELL US MIKE, WHAT DOES LINKEDIN HAVE TO DO WITH TRUST?
I'm glad you asked (thank you). In a word, LinkedIn has EVERYTHING to do with trust. Your profile picture can portray you as a professional ( or it cannot, your decision). Your recommendations can give you credibility in your industry (your lack of recommendations will make people wonder). You want at least one recommendations for each job on your profile, better yet, get 20 or 30, You cannot have too many people saying nice things about you. Your engagement in LinkedIn groups & your content can position you as an expert in your industry (it can also make you look invisible or worse, a fool, this again is your choice). Take some time to cultivate your profile and the relationships you have with your connections.
WHAT DO WE DO MIKE? TAKE ACTION!
Action Item One: That person you met networking yesterday, connect with them, NOW!
Action Item Two: Spend a little time on their profile. Make an introduction for them. Send them a useful lead or an article that would be valuable to them.
Action Item Three: Do action item two a few more times. 10 acts of kindness will build tremendous trust with one person.
What are your thoughts? What did I miss? Do you like this concept? Do you think its stupid? Do you want to talk more about it?
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Thank you for reading today.