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A Memo to Albert...

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4:34pm 27th January 2016
(Updated 9:09am 28th January 2016)

Words by David Smallman - www.smallmanonbusiness.com

Listen to the memo here:

Now that the dust has settled from the New Year and everybody has covered Social Media with their sage thoughts and sayings about to coming year thought I would share with you all a memo I wrote and sent earlier in the month to a client of mine.

For reasons of propriety I have changed his name and made a couple of factual changes in order to disguise him and his business.

It’s sufficient to say here that “Albert” and his Firm ­-like many before him -have struggled for many years to climb to the sun lit plateaus of high success - and stay there. During 2015 I spent a lot of time with him and his Team suggesting and implementing various improvements to his business but he steadfastly refused direct assistance with sales claiming that an “outsider” could not have the knowledge of his products or the understanding of their industry to be of help.

Over the Christmas period I contemplated his situation and then wrote the Client Memo you will see below.

If you are in business for yourself then I hope that parts of the content will be of interest.

But for the rest of you I trust you understand the other messages the memo contains that you should always get somebody to do a job whose skill sets match the task and that a client always deserves the right advise not just what would, in the short term, be in your personal best interest.

 

Albert,

There is no doubt that over the last 30+ years you have put together a significant business built on a number of innovative technologies.

In the process whilst aboard the rollercoaster of the good and “bad” times in your chosen industry sector you have made sufficient money to stay “afloat”.

At this juncture you find yourself with lots of further opportunities and yet orders are again hard to come by.

As with many of the people I have been privileged to work with over the last 40 plus years that fall into the category of owner operators you ardently believe that you are the only person who knows enough about your innovations/technology to be able to “sell” them.

If there is one thing that the last 40 years has taught me it’s that in 90% of cases this statement is just not true.

I accept that you are of course more than capable of carrying out a stunning technical presentation but actually selling your solution; that’s another matter.

The underlying reason is rejection.

9 out of 10 of us – quite naturally – find rejection in any part of our lives difficult to take mentally.

When we think the rejection is aimed at something we hold dear, such as the product or service we have developed - our “baby” – it’s tough to take, so we take steps to avoid this happening - whether that’s:

  • not asking for the order directly
  • not calling the client
  • not making an appointment to follow up
  • or simply spending more time “tweaking” the product

The last one because that actually avoids the ultimate test for your product – taking it to the market.

Albert, I am not saying that all above are true in you or your Firm’s case but I am willing to bet – from experience – at least any 3 out of 4 are.

Let’s face it in 2 out of 3 sales negotiations rejection is the likely outcome (that’s a stat based on worldwide businesses in all sectors).  So it takes a different type of person to understand that, to minimise it and to strategize the negotiation in such a way that it gives them the best chance of being in the one third not the two thirds.

The closing of a transaction, any transaction, is an art in and of its self. And this next statement, I am sure you will believe is wrong; but in-depth product knowledge and/or industry experience is not the number one nor only skill sets needed for concluding the sales process.

I believe that predominantly it takes something I call FPER:

Fortitude -        Strength and firmness of mind;

Preparation – Being ready beforehand - not “winging it”;

Engagement – Ability to captivate the client;

Rehearsal -     Practicing in preparation for what is a “public” performance.

These four I believe rank in front of product knowledge and/or industry experience and of the four I would put R at the top of my list.

The following are few quotes from something I wrote recently when I was asked about FPER - in particular about the last one – “R”:

…….…….and now we come to “R” and this last definition I suspect might raise a few eyebrows……..

…………remember most interaction that people have in the work place on a day to day basis is with those around them that they have built up relationships with and are familiar with………

……………yet the sales person does not have the comfort of close relationships when they meet the potential (or for that matter an existing) customer………….

…………….the sales person is walking into a place where they are in front of frequently more than one person who are comfortably sitting in their own chairs - much as a performer faces when stepping on stage…………..

Let’s look at this “performing” from a different angle.

Think about the most successful court room lawyers you know; they are not experts in any or all of the circumstances that they are called upon to defend but they are “performers” bringing the facts together and presenting them in a way that convinces the Judge and/or Jury of the innocence of their client.

They are supported by all the members of the team in the Law office, researchers, deposition writers, administrator’s etc.to bring about the right result.

Thus in the same way, it’s the responsibility of every member of your business to ensure that orders keep coming in by doing everything within their area of expertise to deliver the client’s requirements (a verdict) in support of the person tasked with closing the sale.

The closing of the transaction, the signing of a P.O, banking the deposit etc. takes somebody who has harnessed that expertise of others and used their skills to understand the clients’ requirement and deliver the solution in a manner that the client finds irresistible.

Albert, you are a consummate technical entrepreneur, an innovator, a man who has the vision to develop solutions – sometimes to problems that client didn’t even realize they had! And as with all who are wired as you are I would respectfully suggest that the “closing” role is not something that comes naturally to you for all the reasons given earlier.

 If any of the above resonates with you - and I really hope it does – then it’s time to get some help.

I have spent a commercial lifetime “closing” transactions across the World and in all manner of industrial sectors, hotels, storage systems, construction projects, transport, job creation, leisure projects plus of course consulting assignments!

Yet I was brought up in a farming community and studied agriculture.

I haven’t invented anything. I am not a technician, accountant or an administrator. I am a closer or perhaps more accurately put a “performer”.

In my role as a consultant to you and your Firm I have acted as a coach and mentor.  I can help you and others understand the sales process and then help to instil some of those vital closing skills in you and them.

But frankly I think a better solution is for you find yourself a “me”, not a technician or an innovator but somebody who pulls all the “lines” (perhaps script is a better term) together and delivers them as any good performer would with passion, panache, poise and a confidence that shows your client that you want their business and that your solution is the right cost effective answer.

Albert, I wish you all the very best in finding that person and then you and the Firm going on to have a great 2016…… 2017, 2018 etc. etc..

 

david smallman

David Smallman has over 48 years of experience, gained living, working and doing business in 58 countries. He is writer on business matters including a smallman logoregular column “150 words that should make sense in your business” available in print in the USA and online.

He is broadcaster who has contributed to The Business Hub here on Pirate 2 DAB; helping listeners to “making sense of business".

www.smallmanonbusiness.com

 

 

 

 

 

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