You’re not making target, because you’re selling

This might shock you as a sales person or manager, but there is a high probability that you have totally missed the winds of change in your market. Settle down for a moment. It’s probably not the fault of your product, or the fact that you have employed a bunch of idiots as sales people. And probably not because you have played one too many golf games during the week. It’s because you’re a salesperson and you’ve largely become redundant.


For the past year I have been very busy breaking into a new market and it involved a lot of time spent with sales and marketing strategies. I have realised that things have drastically changed in how people choose and buy a product and I now know that unless we, as business people, revamp our strategy and tactics on how we deal with clients we will not last into the next century.


The problem is everything has changed. Businesses are no longer in charge. And rightly so, because in the past, we were the experts, and the poor old client was left at the mercy of our well-polished sales pitch; Hearing how he would lose everything if he didn’t buy our product he had no choice but to whip out that well used cheque book and write out a cheque, which was of the rubber type, to buy some guarantee that he would make it. We were proud of our effort and of how we could save our clients from near disaster. But from nowhere and without any warning, a force entered the minds of our client base and our landscape was forever changed. All over the world customers were lured to a portal that would potentially make them, the experts. Our clients were all almost instantly armed with a weapon called, Google.


So your knowledge, expert advice and fear evoking sales pitch was now no match for the biggest information and educational platform the world had ever seen. Your client suddenly had more knowledge than you. He could get himself to expert level in your field in less than a week and could dispel all fears that you tried to instill in his mind, because he, had Google. You were no longer needed and your significance waned with every 3G dongle that was sold at the local supermarket checkout counter. Your days as a salesperson were numbered.


For many years I had the exact formula for selling our product to the market. I first developed our sales tactics based on my personal experience in selling the product from door to door. Once I had success and had built the systems around me to facilitate the process, I began employing sales people and taught them what I knew. This became a well-oiled machine and for over 10 years we grew our business steadily every year. It was easy. Just duplicate the system in every area of the country and you had sales growth.


Our realisation and awakening happened within a window of 6 months between 2009 and the beginning of 2010. We saw a rapid decline in our sales income and only after we tried changing everything internally, without success, did I realise that our external environment had changed. It was a new era.


It has now been 3 years since the metamorphoses of our market and we are still developing new tactics to deal with the changes. I had to grab my suit, polish my shoes and get back into my late model Mercedes Benz, to go and sell to the same people that I had faced 17 years ago. I was humbled by the process and even more humbling was the realisation that my customer had just about the same knowledge about my product as I did. The question I asked was, “what would my role be in future if my client had all the information he needed to make a buying decision?”


I am a very firm believer that there are always opportunities in the midst of challenges. And I decided to go look for my answers in the very place that caused the revolution in our market. The answer was in social media. The fact that the entire world was so wildly attracted to interacting socially without the normal continental boundaries of traditional communication, told me one thing. People wanted to talk to people. It was about forming relationships, building trust and creating communities that could collectively make the world a better place. People had lost all trust in the powers that be and they knew that as a group they could achieve so much more. It was a simple answer. Business had to become part of the community. Business needed to become human again. Business needed to learn how to build relationships. And business needed to offer real value while taking care of the environment they did business in.


So I am here to tell you that the answer to becoming significant as a sales person (after changing your title to Relational Rock Star) is to change your mentality from selling something, to building lasting relationships by adding real value to your community. It’s no longer about making a quick buck at the expense of a client. It’s about providing an affordable solution to a problem that exists and building that relationship once you have successfully solved the customers’ problem. People naturally want to help each other and exchange favours naturally. It’s the old adage of “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”. The requirement for this to work is for your product to deliver on what you promise and be backed up by the same passion that you presented the solution with. This will activate the client to open up his trusted circle of relationships and you will walk away with more qualified leads than you could generate from a week of cold calling.


Business is returning to the village economy again. I have my hair cut with John the plumber’s mother, Jane. And Jane knows Sally who needs a clock system for her furniture factory. If I screw up my relationship with John, Sally will definitely not do business with me. But if I nurture every single relationship in my life I will meet and be connected to many Sallys who will buy my product, because they know someone, that knows me, that has spoken well of my service and has rubber stamped my ability to add value honestly.


You have it in you. You have a natural ability to form relationships. You are a relational being. Its how God put you together. Shrug off everything that keeps you from building lasting relationships and start reaping the fruit of an honest day’s work, changing someone’s life.


In time you’ll make those targets, but more than anything, you’ll be making a difference.