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Sweeping the Corners


Guest articles > Sweeping the Corners


by: Doug Martin


It was a nice decade, right up to 2008. The markets were booming, home equity was skyrocketing, deals seemed easy and our kids were all geniuses. Everywhere you looked, things were coming up roses, a dozen at a time. For the most part, we were too busy taking orders to sell anything. Times have changed.

I of course, had spent the last two hot business years in product development and naturally, timing being everything, launched on the day the stock market crashed. Just one of many such coincidences in my life.

Although history has proven many times over, that good times always come to an end, most of us spend about as much time preparing for such inevitability as we do brushing our teeth. And by preparation, I refer to our sales survival skills. Suddenly we are faced with having to hunt down food sources as apposed to having them jump in our SUV’s. Not to make it sound like we weren’t working hard. It’s just now we need to work harder.

Whenever I say the words “Work Harder’ I am always confronted with someone who beamingly stands up and says “Don’t you mean work smarter”? It’s actually a lot of both. But often times in the pursuit of working smart, we forget to work hard.

Working hard is visible. Working smart is invisible. Customers can see and feel effort. Effort is obvious. And it’s a huge part of how you can earn their business.

As dollars become even more precious, customers become far more astute in value assessment and with whom they spend their dough. Competitive nuances begin to make a mountain of difference. Effort is a competitive advantage. People want you to work for their business. Customers want to feel valuable again. Not that they weren’t necessarily before, but attention time was certainly lacking when things are going so swimmingly. And a certain air of being nonchalant permeated the selling horizon.

Unless you invented Google, the chances are you are scrambling to shore up your sales numbers. And this is a prime opportunity to sneak past those pesky competitors who may still be living in the past. Nothing resonates deeper than a genuine and meaningful desire to earn someone’s business. It speaks volumes.

Hard work never goes unrewarded. An adage based in wisdom. But let me explain the reason why. There are nine factors, which cause influence, and one of those is reciprocity. Most companies I’ve every worked with well understand reciprocity and have several tactics to invoke it. It goes to the natural balance we all have inside us where if someone does something for us, we naturally want to reciprocate. Even things out.

So taking a customer out for a nice lunch, nets you the relatively equal reciprocity of time and attention. And the exchange will last as long as the lunch does. There is an endless stream of such things that we all use to trigger a slight imbalance with the customer which we are sure will be returned in some relatively equal fashion. It works well and has been a mainstay in business for years. Most, if not virtually all forms of reciprocity surrounds some tangible item. And as such, it’s very easy for the customer to figure out what the reciprocity will be.

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m a big advocate of working smart. But from the customers’ viewpoint, they see and appreciate the hard work. And instinctively look to reward it. The more you can do to demonstrate your desire to do business with them, the more it will be embraced. As a front line sales rep, going the extra mile, tactically, will take on a very identifiable resonance. That demonstration could very well be the difference between you and your competitor. And it is void of any customer reluctance.

Much of the reciprocity tactics we see in the marketplace are identifiable for what they are, and really don’t need much explanation. It’s simply an unspoken understanding. Elevated effort on the other hand is a stealth tactic, which builds value from the inside out. And it’s memorable.

A client of mine in Florida was looking to shake up their sales approaches and brought me in for some white-board time with their team. We got to the point of talking about the “Untouchable” accounts. As a middle of the pack supplier my client had a bit of an inferiority complex and thus shied away from what they considered to be sophisticated accounts. By all accounts, they figured they had very little competitive edge when it came to approaching the deluxe business. We decided everyone would pick one juicy example in his or her territory and we would build an effort strategy as a core point of differentiation around that prospect. For three months tremendous efforts went unrewarded. Quotes got shot down, proposals didn’t hold up, but they were relentless in keeping at it. Between transactional opportunities, they would touch base, send over relevant news articles, leave voicemails, drop off industry reports, everything. Then one day I retrieved a voice mail from Jennifer, “I just want you to know my Untouchable called today. He’s not with that company anymore; he’s taken a better position with another group. He said he’d be happy to do business with me, now that he is the final decision maker”.

Every market and every territory has tight corners where opportunity hides. Sometimes it’s with clients we forgot about, sometimes it’s the clients we’ve yet to call, sometimes it’s our belief in ourselves. Grab your broom and start digging into those crevices to expose a wealth of potential.

Is getting into those corners and sweeping out the dollars hard work? Absolutely, and smart too.


About the Author: Douglas Martin is a Professional Corporate Sales Trainer featuring his trademarked seminar program EPIG™ Customer Relationship Architecture and purveyor of The Weekly Sales Beast. where his lighter side of heavy selling musings are syndicated worldwide.

Contributor: Douglas Martin

Published here on: 24-Apr-11

Classification: Sales


MSWord: Sweeping the Corners

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