October 14, 2016

Sales to Service

We are all living in a time where we just cannot move fast enough.  We are torn between work demands and home.   Our mobile devices consistently vie for our attention and we never shut them down out of FOMO (fear of missing out).  Thankfully we have friends to keep us grounded.

One of my friends recently invited me to attend a conference.  This wasn’t my normal sales or consulting conference.  It was all about living a life of presence with Eckart Tolle.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the subject matter resonated with me not only on a personal level but, also in my everyday work life and journey.


A few years ago, I was in the middle of a career driven by stressful quotas.  Quarter after quarter,  Janet Jackson’s “What have you done for me lately?” would play over and over again in my head.  One year I would qualify as a sales leader and head to some exotic destination (or Armonk, NY) and the next year I would be pond scum because I didn’t hit my quota number.   As an aside, I don’t really understand what type of calculator they use to come up with some of the crazy quota numbers I have seen. The point is for years I was worried about meeting my quarter end quota.  I would scour reports trying to determine which deals I was going to attach myself to in order to get me there.  Sound familiar?

Back to the conference – within the first hour of listening to Jack Kornfield speak, he said;  “Concentrate on the value, the rightness and the truth of the work itself…”  He was making the point not to focus on the end results but, on the work.  He was saying put in the work and the results will come.  And there it was… my a-ha! moment.  You know what I am talking about.  Oprah coined the phrase and then Merriam-Webster added it to the dictionary.   Its official definition is “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.”

What I was reminded of in that moment is what I’ve always known.  Quality results don’t happen overnight.  Quality results don’t happen when you are focused on the end result.  We don’t plant seeds and have beautiful fruit trees the next day.  What bears the sweet bountiful harvest is everything that happens in between planting the seeds, picking the fruit and pruning the trees for the next crop.

You see long ago I realized my focus should not be centered on the looming quota number.  My focus should be centered on building a business relationship with someone based upon trust and respect.  The biggest favor we can do for ourselves is to flip the switch from handling every opportunity as a sales opportunity and think of it as an opportunity to provide a service to our customers.  And besides, does anyone really want to be sold something?


How do we do this?

  1. First and foremost, go into discovery mode. Take the time to explore and understand your client’s current environment and long term goals.  Once you have a clear vision then determine if your product suite is a good fit for the client today or in the future.
  2. Bring some value to your customer even if it doesn’t amount to an immediate sale. Your CIO wants to know how they can further drive value to their business.  Earlier this year, I sat in on a discussion with a CIO from a large Silicon Valley based technology company.  He shared the fact that his team is aware of what the product vendors can provide in terms of product solutions.  He doesn’t want to know what he already knows.  He is looking to do business with those individuals who bring him insight to the industry and tell him what he doesn’t know.
  3. Strive for the long term relationship. Customers appreciate when their vendors can become a strategic partner and truly understand the needs of their company and how they can align together in the work place.
  4. Be genuine. It’s much easier to promote a product when you believe in it and truly know that what you have to offer will make your customer’s life easier and drive value to their business.

Now what will you reap after all of this sowing?  Referrals and strong business relationships based upon trust and respect.  You will have customers who will remember you and the service you were able to provide to them.  We never know where our customers will be a year from now or five years from now but, one thing is for certain: when they move on to their next organization, we want them to call us.


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