What's in this photo? Absolutely nothing of real interest. A coffee stand, business meeting, candy crush. As I said, nothing of real importance. Is it possible to reach travel burn-out? My eyes water at the thought. Another delay? Check. Another hotel? Check. Sick people? Check, check, check. Been there, done that, not just once or twice.
I see the cute young girls in their business attire and up-dos. Men in their crisp starched shirts and tailored suits. I look down at my jeans, no make-up, yesterday's hair. They are dapper and adorable, I am comfortable and seasoned.
Business chatter and laptop clatter are all around me. I eat a stale protein bar, drink overpriced airport coffee and stare at Facebook, the ultimate time sucker, no chatter no clatter.
Yes, I think it's burn-out or job stress or road rash. While my babies grow three days older without me, I see my suitcase age three days with me. Maybe we age together. Classy, high-end suitcase with a lifetime guarantee. What guarantee do I come with?
Chill, I tell myself it's another day you have been given as a gift. Can I breathe? Check. Can I walk? Check. Can I type with both hands? Check, check, check. That gratitude list would max out the post and completely turn my frown upside down. And it does, so I push through. Wait, they are paging me.
Hurry, coffee right hand or left? Where's the line? What happened to the delay? Ah, lost in my own thoughts, yet again. On-board, I situate my big girl panties properly with my lifetime guaranteed classy suitcase overhead. It's time to get this show on the road and turn this airport nothing into a grateful something and make it a beautiful day.
Think about this famous Dr. Seuss statement for a moment, “Today and every day going forward, there is no one alive who is YOUER than you.” Make sure you are aware of your unique personality and how others perceive you, especially in your face-to-face meetings.
How do I do this? Ah, I am so glad you asked.
The path to authenticity starts with learning more about yourself. In the big giant world of Self-Help and Personal Growth, there is plenty of information available for you to begin a self-discovery journey. What I am referring to is knowing your professional self. Having conscious knowledge of yourself and your feelings in addition to knowing how others perceive you is an essential attribute as a leader and sales executive. Your sales manager should be able to help coach you in this area. If you don’t have a manager, look for a peer to help you understand where you are. Hire a sales coach.
In a 2013 Harvard Business Review article titled “Be Yourself, but Carefully,” authors Lisa Rosh and Lynn Offermann write about five different types of executives or leaders that don’t have a realistic view of themselves or don’t have a good understanding about how they come across to others. Below are examples of how I would interpret their research as it applies to sales representatives. As you read the descriptions, see if you identify with one or more of the characteristics. Use your curiosity to say, “isn’t that interesting.” Only when you start to understand where you currently are, can you plan your path to where you want to be in the future.
• Oblivious – This representative reveals information and opinions in a manner that appears clueless or phony. They name drop about how they interact with key opinion leaders and other clients that use their product or service. This approach to selling makes the prospect feel like their opinions and business “don’t matter.”
• Bumblers – I’ve seen this type under my management. This representative is unable to read the prospects’ social cues, including body language and facial expressions. They make ill-timed, inappropriate statements. Often, they “show up and throw up” as we say in the business, and completely bypass relationship building altogether. Another example of this characteristic is the representative that orders Bob’s BBQ pulled pork for an office where the decision maker is a non-pork eater due to religious reasons. They failed to do the appropriate amount of pre-call planning and did not take the time to understand that the prospect is from another country and therefore was not aware of different social or religious customs.
• Open books – You guessed it. These people talk about everything. They tend to over communicate. They may be considered resourceful, and technically sound, but they are not considered to be trustworthy. This rep may be flashy. They like to speak about their new outfit or accessory. While the staff may be active in the conversation, the decision makers want to shop with you, not buy from you.
• Inscrutable –This may be a newer representative that is trying to feel comfortable and confident in their new position or an introvert that is not comfortable in sales. The inscrutable sales representative tends to stick to business as usual. They may use closed body language. They would show up and deliver information without creating rapport or long-term relationships. Prospects and clients would consider this person remote and inaccessible.
• Social Engineers – This representative or executive can manipulate people. The social engineer can make someone feel comfortable. They share traits with the Bumbler and the Inscrutable often the slow learner in reading social cues. This representative wants to get their prospects out to dinner meetings or off-site presentations.
Overall, an effective sales representative needs to have knowledge of their personality and how to mitigate his or her strengths and weaknesses. Here is a list of useful tools in the area of self-awareness that offers assessments online for a fee. Once again, use your network or coach to help you understand how to use the results of the evaluation.
DISC Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Good luck and Happy Selling.
I would love to hear if you have another assessment you have found to be helpful in your quest for understanding how you are perceived in a professional setting.
Planning a proposal at 40,000 ft.
Ok, I admit it. I am the person you sit next to on an airplane and carries on a conversation with my seatmate the-whole-flight. My friends often comment that they can’t believe how a person feels comfortable enough with me to convey their complete life story on a one-hour flight. I have even helped a member of our Armed Forces plan his proposal at 40,000 feet. However, that’s just me acting in my natural state of sincere curiosity. For some people like me, it comes naturally, for others it’s learned.
I have the pleasure of managing sales professionals that make daily in-person sales calls. While the types of sales calls can vary from a cold call, to a scheduled presentation, one aspect of the selling process never changes, they must always first and foremost build rapport, or at least they should.
I find it fascinating how some businesses have become so accustomed to sending email and text messages that they have lost sight of the impact made in face-to-face interactions. Estimates show the US digital marketing spend will approach $120 billion by 2021 which includes e-mail marketing. In the medical device space, we rely heavily on in-person meetings to deliver information to key decision makers and influencers.
Decision makers have become increasingly busy. They don’t have time to read the latest email in their inbox from their kid’s teacher or coach, why would they stop and learn what you are trying to sell them if they don’t already know you?
I want to remind you that although you may have to bring in lunch or breakfast to speak to a decision maker, you are not a paid caterer hired to shoot the breeze and make new friends. You are hired to close business. You are in front of the decision maker to build rapport and to discover what are the most significant problems the customer has and relate those problems to the solutions you are providing in the form of your product or service.
There is a saying that “no one likes to be sold,” but do you hear people say, “no one likes to make new friends or acquaintances?” Not so much. In this blog, I will be deconstructing the art of building a rapport and healthy relationship with your customers and prospects. The information shared is a result of my experience and insight from some of the industry’s leading sales executives. My goal is to deliver enough information to put you on the right track to building the highest quality relationships you can. Relationships are what we in sales hang our hats on, and they are something valuable that we can take with us regardless of the company we represent.
Enjoy and happy selling!