Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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“Hello, I’m Todd, and I’ll Be Your Customer Today.”

November 20, 2014

2014 hasn’t brought any significant new messages to social selling. Some of today’s most promising voices are reinforcing what we already know.

As every year winds down, I like to spend some time replaying the last year in my mind. If I’ve been diligent enough to keep copious notes about my successes and failures, this task is a lot easier.

If I haven’t, I try to put in writing my thoughts about what worked and what didn’t work. I ask myself a variety of questions during this process, including:

  • Who responded to me in the most positive way?
  • What might I have done or said that prompted that?
  • When did my best efforts fail?
  • Where could I improve?
  • Why did I make repeat sales with some customers, while others faded away?

Sensing Patterns

Like a journalist assembling the critical elements of a story, my own story starts to take shape. By being brutally honest with myself (since I don’t share of the results of my reflections with anyone else), I critique the last year’s highlights and lowlights – not unlike a sports coach reviewing games tapes and seeing in hindsight what wasn’t obvious at the time.

Compare and Contrast

I’ve been reading a lot of advice from the country’s top sales leaders lately. I think it’s important to see what the most successful people are saying about the current state of the sales process, though I encourage you to listen to your own inner, critical voice.

You know the one. It’s not the one that just tries to cheer you up after a rejection. It’s the one that you know is being objective. Seeing the whole picture. Telling it like it is. Pick your cliche.

Sometimes it takes awhile to hear that voice. Wait for it. That’s why I do this comprehensive analysis after a year has passed.

Hearing From the Pros

Once your marketing efforts have delivered a prospect, it’s time for you to put in practice those basic principles of social selling that have been repeated over and over the last few years. They’re said over and over — by people who’ve been there — because they work.

Not in every case, of course. Some prospects can’t be converted to sales, no matter what you do or say. But play the percentages.

So at the risk of being repetitive, here’s what I’ve gleaned from my recent reading:

  • Focus on the customer. Like “they” say, It’s not about you. Certainly, you come into sales relationships with your own goals. Maybe it’s not even to make a sale, not right at first. Maybe you’re working on the second meme that keeps being hammered into today’s sales professionals, which is…
  • Learn about the customer’s problems and needs. Your problem may be that you’re a long way from quota. The customer doesn’t care.
  • Make the customer feel important and valued. It’s a simple thing, really, a basic human need that you can fill.
  • Make a personal connection. Reach if you have to. Keep swinging until you make contact.
  • Listen. Then listen some more. Sometimes, we’re planning our next element of the pitch while the customer is still talking. Undoubtedly, we miss important cues. It’s OK to have a couple beats of silence here and there. If you’re stuck, repeat back what was just said so that you’re sure you’re understanding it.

No Magic Formula

You know as well as I do that sometimes you have to throw a Hail Mary pass, to use yet another sports metaphor. The internet — as well as your own personal research, skills, and knowledge — should make that a rare occurrence.

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