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Do Not Change Minds, Find Open Minds

The way customers buy and change, and the way sales people sell are very different, often leading to different results and frequently diametrically opposed. One of the more efficient, practical and realistic ways to approach sales is not to try to change minds, but to focus on finding open minds.

The change-analyzer sales process is highly experiential and interactive because the flow of the sales call is entirely contingent on what the customer has to say or not say. The change-analyzer spends very little time and effort on mechanical and defensive selling defending product and price, protecting against the competition, because it is all about whether the customer's conditions are right and beneficial for change. Unlike product pushers, the customer is the center of gravity.

Change-analyzers renounce the traditional act of selling. They ultimately know that the ball is always squarely in the customer's court and ultimate influence and decision-making lies with them. They take whatever is at hand, like an improvisation. Everything is very fresh and spontaneous. They do not over plan and overthink. They do not force the customer's story in their march to the close, they let it unfold. They do not try to squeeze out agreement and commitment. They know that awareness and deep understanding are key drivers for change. Without in-depth exploration, they are really just nothing more than looming characters in Dockers with a company, insignia polo shirt.

Conventional sales people are so hell bent on justifying their product, solution, and their reason for being. However, what they really have to justify is their own value contribution. Your product might cost more, but so do you. Customers would like to strip your value contribution out of the picture, and not have to deal with the associated costs of dealing with you one-on-one because in many cases they feel you are dispensable.

Your value is helping the customer justify their own reasons for changing. Hint: it has a lot less to do with your company and your offering as you think. "Change supersedes all problems and solutions," says Brett Clay. According to Bob's Moses, a very small percentage of sales people take into consideration how their customers buy and what their milestones are.

Change-analyzers ferret out new and minted information, new perspectives, extenuating circumstances and unexplored beliefs of customers. They know there is always a parallel story to expose and understand. They really get their customer's personal and individual thoughts and opinions on how they view the process of change. They realize nothing is as simple as it appears when it comes to people deciding to take action or not.

You really need to have a pragmatic and open minded outlook on how you interact with others to draw out confidential information that lets them find their own clues. This is an exercise in critical thinking, instead of spin and fluff.

Customers are frequently between a rock and a hard place. Your job is to be an independent advisor so they can see all possibilities and resolve all hard questions; good, bad, ugly. When you are extremely neutral like this customers do not know if you are coming or going, if you are advancing or retreating, which is the way it should be, because you will not know if you can help until you get a complete picture of their circumstances, goals, frustrations, priorities and competing projects.

You definitely are more at the mercy of the customer's situation and circumstances than normal traditional sales people, so you have to be willing to put your self-serving selling goals aside and work a little more than usual in anonymity and in an independent way.

Change-analyzers are more inclined to engage clients with a collective mentality. Hence, you are bound to be a bit more touchy-feely, collaborative and genteel with this more intuitive and cerebral explorative process. "You need to be an earnest student of the customer's behavior and thinking. This is your remaining competitive edge over the Internet and global competitiveness," says Brett Clay.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com