The Change-Agent Can Coach, But Only the Customer Can Play
The change-agent sales strategy is a process not a destination. It is about how you drive, not where you are going. It is like a driving instructor, not a chauffeur. You help your customer understand the idiosyncrasies of their situation and their thinking, in doing so they will know how to better interpret their issues based on their priorities and mandates. Does this sound like selling? Not really!
The change-agent strategy is about having a zero agenda conversation, a sales propaganda free discussion. It is all about promoting and advocating the customer's best interest. This strategy is a catalyst for self-inquiry, deep examination and positions you well for preferred status.
Intellectual property will define success in the information economy. The change-agent process helps you become a subject expert in your customer's business and their challenges. It gives you a huge leg up on the competition because you really are bringing unique value to the table. "If it does not add value it adds cost," says Mark Neely. This is the rallying call of the change-agent.
So many customers cannot see the forest from the trees because they are so caught up in the immediate day-to-day of their company. Your job is to help them see the light of day in their situation. This might include seeing the darkness of the cost of change. Often customers are doing the equivalent of looking for their lost keys only under a street lamp in a dark parking lot because it is lighter there. You help them expand their search so they can get a complete big picture.
The change-agent strategy is a fully integrated sales approach because it has touch points on all elements of the decision to change or not. The sales person holds the customer accountable to the cost and inconvenience of change, not just the benefits.
"It's a matter of assessing risk, of identifying opportunities and basically looking at the forest past the trees. It's not about market timing," says David Rosenberg economist at weath-management firm Gluskin Sheff, commenting on the firm's investment strategies. He could have said the same about the firm's selling strategy...it is not about timing, and it is not about selling, it is about understanding the customer's goals and challenges. That will be the engine as to whether change happens or not.
Conventional sales people help customers make one key decision... to buy. The change-agent helps customers make key decisions each step in the customer's buying process that has to do with intangibles and soft issues that conventional sales people rarely put on the table because of fear. In the world of selling this is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.
A lot of deals are over before they are over, or dead before they actually begin because the sales person did not understand the customer's circumstances and their unique frame of mind at the time where change was the furthest thing from their thought process. And most sales people never learn this directly, because they never get final closure due to the fact that customers were non-responsive to their six months of emails, texts, voicemails and LinkedIns. Do not try to change minds of customers who will not change their minds.
The change-agent process is one of mutual discovery that requires sales people to be very accessible so that they can talk customers through the complexities of change. The common approach of mainstream sales people is, "the customer has needs and we have solutions." This does not even enter into the equation of a change-agent.