For those of us in sales, please stop leading with the right hook. We are passionate about our product or service, but we’ve got to learn more about our customers. Engage your customers and prospects in a meaningful conversation. Find out what makes them tic. Learn their history and challenges. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk and make your pitch. (Here’s the link to the book on Amazon)
Today at a conference, I watched prospects approach vendors. What I witnessed was disheartening, and almost painful. These unsuspecting prospects never had a chance. Vendors exchanged pleasantries and begin their pitch about why he or she should sign up/commit/or purchase a product or service. Not once did the sales folks stop to ask open ended questions.
If you haven’t listened to or read Gary Vaynerchuck, start right now. Whether in sales, marketing, design, leadership, customer service, or any other part of business, we have to stop our first interaction being a request to buy or product or service. Instead, we have to jab with our prospects – provide them value, create meaningful content, start to learn about their needs – and if you serve your customers, you’ll not only convert prospects to leads to sales, but you’ll start to develop a tribe and build influential followers.
Donald Miller crafts it beautifully – our customers are the heroes of the story, and our job is to serve as the guide. Uncover their challenges, or even better, help them discover challenges that they didn’t realize they had. And as you guide your prospects through the story, continue to write the story with he/she as the hero/heroine.
As salespeople, we know our product or service. We know the value, and we know how it can solve our customers’ problems. If we don’t believe in it, we shouldn’t be selling it. If we’ll take the time to slow down and wait for the right hook, I believe we’ll be successful – both in the short term and for the long haul.
Last week I got to start a new chapter of my own personal Do Over. Starting over is seldom easy, and beginning a new job brings excitement, doubt, and fear.
The excitement of learning new things and meeting new people can be suffocated by the doubt that says, “you’ll never be able to be as successful as you were at your last job.” And doubt brings his cousin fear alongside to cause you to forget that you were capable before and you can win again.
When I left my last job, I knew the ins and outs. I understood process and challenges. I knew what it took to be successful, and often I could coast threw the day in the hammock of comfort. Starting a new job comes to your hammock and cuts the cords, knocking you to the ground.
Whether you step out of the hammock on your own or you or dumped to the ground, the only way to grow is to leave the comfort of the net and do things that make you uncomfortable.
So as you leave your hammock or climb to your feet after falling out, it’s important to dust yourself off and prepare to start again. As I’ve started over recently, I’ve learned 4 important lessons.
- Be Willing To Learn – Regardless of what you knew or didn’t know at your last gig, come into your new job with humility and a willingness to learn new processes and meet new people. If you unconscionably competent at your last job, be prepared to live in the land of conscious incompetence for a season.
- Be Coachable – Ask for feedback, especially from your leader. Find out what he or she wants, and work hard to deliver. There will be time for you to adapt and modify, but focus on making your leader successful. This is especially good advice if your leader has been in your position in the past. Listen to their advice, and find out what’s worked in the past.
- Be Hungry – Start early. Work late. Focus on the work and do everything you can add value – to your leader and your team. The ability to win can only be accomplished if there is a willingness to prepare. Learn. Take notes. Ask questions. Be willing to pay your dues.
- Be Patient – This is extremely difficult when you want to hit the ground running. Understand that it takes time. You may not have the same success that you had before, at least at first. It takes time to learn the who’s and what’s of an organization, and often times things don’t move as quickly as you’d like. Give yourself permission to be patient, but be ready when it’s your turn.
Starting over is seldom easy. However, I am grateful for the opportunity that starting over brings. I’m thankful that failure is never final, and there are others that have walked this road before me. I was fortunate enough to get to read Jon Acuff’s book, Do Over, and the encouragement and hope that I gained from that book has been key in recovering from the shock of an unexpected career bump. Having a testimony is a great thing – getting one is a pain in the rear.
This post is dedicated to Jon Acuff, author of Do Over and other great books (www.JonAcuff.me). I highly recommend this book as you prepare for or go through an experience where you get a chance to start over.