I often get asked what Sales actually does, other than talk a lot about themselves and products and I feel it best to compare the different Sales functions in a courtship approach.

Stop selling the pen

In the olden days (I say this with tongue in cheek being almost 37 years of age), we pushed product features, and the saying “never take no for an answer” was the key phrase. …. AWKWARD…. Big problem if this is compared to courting and relationship building. Today we know better.

The sell me the pen approach where the sales rep goes into full feature mode is outdated. The sales rep goes in with the following approach: This pen is sleek, it writes like no other, this pen is made of metal and is white in colour, this pen is for an elite few and it is one of a kind, don’t you deserve a one of a kind pen?…STOP!

Stop selling the pen! Throw the pen away and create a need for the pen. If you can sign this contract while we are sitting at this boardroom table, we will ensure a ROI of 200% in your first 3 months without charging you X. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, the only thing needed that is nowhere to be found in this room…… is the pen. Sell the value of what that pen could signify if you only had it. Show the value of the pen!

Sales is relationship building and no longer a quick date but a relationship built on value and commitment to improve the life (KPI’s) of the person you are talking to. It’s listening more than talking (identifying problems that you can assist with). Educating instead of selling. How can you sell something that you don’t even know they need?

The blind date of sales

Imagine you go on a blind date, you meet this amazing looking guy that is dressed to impress and as soon as you sit down, he starts talking about himself non-stop. What he does for a living, what sport he plays, his pets, his parents, his last girlfriend, his goals and aspirations, sometimes even how much he earns… all I am hearing is ME ME ME. Similar to companies that still sell old-school with product features and death by presentation. Courtship is conversation, much like selling.

With internet dating and dating apps these days, you need to impress within 2 seconds or be swiped left (or is it right…..?). Once that swipe is made and a connection is formed, conversation starts. The one waits for the other to message first (I speak like I know of this app) to start the basis of the relationship. This stage is a bit like a quote collector choosing to interact to hear more about your company, set up a meeting with the decision maker and collect that quote to compare to others. Important to note, you are not the only one that was swiped right on… best you make an impression that would be lasting.

Grab the attention of your date by showing you look the part. (In business this is done by your website, your content pieces, your social media presence, your client list, your reviews and referrals). Then remember, as soon as you open your mouth, you introduce yourself to the world. So ensure you start a conversation that will build a relationship of mutual respect and trust. Know what you are talking about and don’t just ramble for the sake of talking to fill the silence.

Proceed to ask about them. Ask about their life, their aspirations, latest hurdles they had to face and how they overcame them. Show interest and really be interested in what they have to say. If you are going to listen to reply, instead of listening to understand, rather stay home and delete the dating app. Save data and time.

By listening to understand, you are gaining knowledge, insight and understanding of what they are looking for in a partner (for the night or marriage…. Am I allowed to say that ;- )…

When someone feels heard, they often share more information than what is required but the more your date talks, the more information you have to add value once it’s your opportunity to open your mouth.

The ultimate wing-man approach …. you’re welcome

I often joke with people in Operations saying Sales sells the dream and Operations builds it. The way I see sales…. New business is the Jocks of the world that swept (swiped) you off your feet with the whispers of sweet nothings in your ear and sold you the dream of a life you never knew you needed and now can’t go a single day without. Once your charm works and your lady love has bought into this wonderful life that awaits, you introduce her to her forever partner.

Not sure if you have watched a movie called Good luck Chuck. After a night with Chuck, they find their true love and marry shortly after. I believe the Customer Success team can be seen as that exact True Love that will give you the life you envisioned and ensure you are taken care of. The Success Team of the organisation was previously friend-zoned but now finally gets their time to shine. One could say New Business is the ultimate wing-man to ensure companionship.

Life lessons of 2020 applied to life as we know it

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that you need to like the person you are in lockdown with. Much like the person you are in business with. You needed to re-evaluate what is important to you and put in the work to ensure lockdown is bearable in a confined space with a handful of people (if you were lucky enough to be locked down with others).

We should think the same when choosing who we go into business with. Does this person listen to understand? Does this person truly care to make the difference I require? Is this person only looking after their own pocket? Is this person someone I see myself growing old with?

Side note: I often wonder how many marriages were saved because of lockdown and how many unhappy couples decided to finally call it quits because of lockdown. There is a sense of freedom in both. Personally it has made me re-evaluate how I spend my time, conversations I entertain and relationships formed. How time and what you do with it, is the most valuable asset you can have as a human being.

But hey, this is just my way of seeing how sales are actually so much more than selling your features and not taking no for an answer. Sales is a collective effort within an organisation to ensure all check-boxes are ticked when they meet a suitable candidate to build a lifetime partnership based on value and transparency. A marriage with secrets is a recipe for disaster so why not offer complete transparency as a business partner as well.

Written by Adéle de Villiers (Senior Sales Executive at FinChatBot & Founder at Corporate Tomboy)


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