The very best consultative sales professionals operate exclusively in “me only territory” and that demands an explanation, so let’s begin by examining the traditional sales environment…
For the sake of this explanation, let’s use a baseball park (not that I know too much about baseball.) So traditional salesmen and women are operating left field, they are usually totally focused on a single sales event, and they sell products. If asked to describe the value they bring, they would simply offer you product options, and they are always willing to compete on price to get the order. They typically sell to “users”, which requires them to be consistently reactive and, of course, their achievement levels are as unpredictable as the British weather!
Finally, if asked to describe commercial politics, they would stare blankly at you… That isn’t their fault, it is simply that they have never been exposed to it – and the same goes for ROI.
These people are all operating exclusively in “me-too territory”.
When we move into centre field, we find ourselves in “me-first territory”. These salespeople bring much more to the table and have a much wider commercial bandwidth.
They are pre-occupied with the business process. They focus both on the customer and their competitors. They don’t simply sell products, but rather “application solutions”. They are acutely aware of the need to make a profit and usually they deal with recommenders, so they have taken a giant stride up the food chain.
These salespeople understand that reliability is more important to customers than the speed of response (reactivity) and they are also politically agile. Naturally, they can sell using ROI arguments. Finally, their achievement levels are consistent.
You might be forgiven for thinking that must be as good as it gets – after all, the two scenarios that we have described account for around 95% of the global sales population… But actually, no, it gets even better!
Now we are entering “only-me” territory – the hallowed turf of the sales world. We are very much right field, and the population is made up of the biggest hitters whose primary pre-occupation is long-term outcomes. Their focus is entirely on the customer’s commercial objectives and how they can assist the customer in achieving them. The value they bring is strategic direction and they only see long-term ROI. Their dealings are exclusively with key decision makers and they penetrate the formal DMU as easily as a knife slicing through butter.
These salespeople are always on the front foot, deliberately pro-active. They identify the business they want and they go after it. They are not just politically agile – they are politically astute. They use politics to win whenever they need or have to. They always secure high ROI and they consistently exceed quotas. They have complete account control.
And you, where do you spend most of your selling time?
In the precarious left field, where you are totally at the mercy of your prospects and customers, hoping that they will call you?
Maybe you are centre field, which does indeed feel much more secure when compared to your colleagues to the left of you – even though you frequently cast envious glances to those colleagues on your right…
Or maybe, just maybe, you really are a top 5% achiever? If you are, congratulations, I know precisely what it took for you to get there!