Whether you sell digital media advertising, online marketing programs, multichannel marketing or a sophisticated ad tech solution, one thing’s for sure: there’s not an action, a word or a minute to waste. Welcome to the age of intentional selling.
Living intentionally has been a long-held concept in self-help programs and books. It means getting in really close touch with why you’re doing what you’re doing, choosing what you’re choosing. It’s past time for those of us in this industry – and likely many others – to bring intentionality to the strategy and practice of sales.
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Consider this: Never have so many had to communicate so much complexity to buyers who’ve had so little attention and so many filters and roadblocks at their disposal. If you’re selling in our world you feel it every day: the unreturned emails and calls; the sure-thing deals that slipped away; the in-person enthusiasm followed by radio silence; the ambivalence and uncertainty in your pipeline. It’s not you… it’s the world we live and sell in today. But the solution? Yeah, that’s you. Own it.
Being intentional in your sales career isn’t impossible, but it does take discipline. Here are a few keys to help you start selling intentionally right now.
Kill Your Sacred Cows. There are a thousand tropes and maxims sales people believe and act on every day. I must go all out on every RFP every time or I might not get another one… We’ve got to take them through the general presentation so they know who we are… Let’s get everybody in a room together and work things out. Being intentional means questioning – and often rejecting – conventional wisdom. All the statements above will lead to needless detours, delays, false positives and extra work for your team. Which you’ll never know unless you consider alternatives.
Keep it Small and Honest. I’ve said in this space before that small meetings are always better than big meetings. And it’s still true. So many reps bounce between disinterested lunch-and-learns and way-too-inclusive RFPs. The third way is to lean into small, one-on-one talks with key customers, sometimes on the phone. And when you’re in one of these meetings, talk about what matters. Be honest and vulnerable. Demonstrate to the customer that you want their business and ask them for commitment.
Lead with Needs. The ultimate hallmark of intentionality is to be obsessive about solving client business and marketing problems. First. It means not wasting a meeting or a call to find out what’s going on with them. It means having a point of view… a hypothesis… an educated guess about what’s ailing the customer and how you can help them feel better. You only get one chance to start an email, a conversation, a meeting or a relationship. Start it well.
Own It. Ask yourself why you’re there and have a good answer. Like I’m in this to really try to make a difference for this client… to help them succeed. That’s what owning your own intent sounds like. And if that’s the voice in your head, you’ll be just fine.