In his latest book To Sell Is Human; Daniel Pink explores the concept of serving as a more effective mindset and approach for sales professionals to move prospects. He believes we are all selling in some way today. If you are trying to move others, you are selling. Specifically the research strongly supports that selling is most effective when it is serving the customer and improving his life.
In the businesses I help to scale in the role of COO, I teach and implement a version of Prime selling designed by the sales guru Jeff Thull. The central thesis of Prime is that a sales professional’s objective is not the grabbing of a Purchase Order but the improved performance of the individual manager you are trying to help. In other words serving first selling second. Think about it. You don’t want the job you want the interview. The corollary of serving your prospect can be a Purchase Order but it’s as a result of finding a problem worth serving, worth solving, worth improving. Specifically in ADMET, an Inc. 5000 niche manufacturer I’m scaling, we’ve built really powerful playbooks around serving prospects by translating our conversation into project management language. We call our prospects – sponsors. We work closely with our sponsors selfishly to improve their lives, to satisfy their problems. We talk about project timetables through all the stages of designing the best solution. We are open about the need to diagnose the real issues the real problems. We take time to design and implement practical solutions we know will work for that specific sponsor in that specific prospect company. When we talk about key dates we include the date we expect to receive the PO. But it’s not the key date because that would be focused on us, the seller. No the key date is the Operational Date when the prospect will enjoy the dream he purchased! The key date is when ADMET technology is fulfilling the success criteria the prospect articulated, defining an improved life. That’s what serving first and selling second means in today’s economy. And it works.
Ian – Interesting concept. I look at this as Relationship selling. Your job is not to sell the gadgets, but to build the relationship with the customer, understand their needs and then offer how you can make your customer’s life easier by offering solutions that meet those needs. Writing a purchase order should come last and should be the least painful part of selling if you have done your job of building the relationship.