The profession of sales is a seductive art. I did not say it was sexy. No matter how you try may to make it sexy, it still involves the nuts and bolts and rigorous work of someone moving a product by convincing an individual to do something that they otherwise might not do. This is the essence of the chain of distribution.
Is All Sales Just Sales?
There are those whose job is sales, yet the audience is different; actually it is much different, as they will not be the end-user of your product. When you are selling products and services to those who have the responsibility of selling them to others, you are in an interesting situation. Whether you are a manufacturer’s rep, a wholesaler, a distributor selling to retail, or another like role, you have a responsibility to recognize the subtle difference in a role that exist when you are not selling to someone who will then sell your product to the end user.
In most of these cases, you are selling to sales professionals who work under various titles. These are the people that will ultimately sell to the end user, and most likely have characteristics (as sales professionals) that we all know quite well. It is a group with personal drive and a quest for dollars (most of the time), and recognition (quite often).
You know a great deal about them because you, as a successful sales professional, have many of the same traits.
What is Different?
When you are selling product to sales professionals, you must recognize some simple rules:
- You are talking to the “Star” when you talk to your customer (the dealer, sales rep, or otherwise).
- Time is of the essence so respect it. Attention spans can be short, and getting shorter once you start talking if you are not getting to the point. They need something from you, but don’t want to spend an afternoon getting it.
- Clarity of information is essential, know this and deliver everything in the clearest format possible. As a sales professional yourself, you recognize that vagary causes you to move to consider another offering.
- The information you leave behind must be useful and in a format which gets interest and solves problems. The information that you leave for the customer must be useful, or you have wasted print cost or development costs.
- If he/she cannot understand it, they cannot sell it! Be precise and simple in your explanations and characterizations of your product.
Why do I say “you are talking to the Star?” Remember, the “star” is the one with the relationship That is the ultimate “star” because they can present your product the way you want them to do it, or the way they want to do it. You obviously want them to present your product the way you want it, so recognize the need to make them look good!
Other Important Strategies
There are a couple of other things to remember that might work well for you in this endeavor:
- Recognize who is your “customer”. In most cases, it is not the end user; it is the individual who makes the decision to recommend your product. This is a huge issue. There is a difference between customer and end user, and depending on how you run your process and present your product, you could alienate your“customer”. Don’t make that mistake, as your competition may be solid in this distinction.
- Be the best in customer service and support. This is an area that you are in control of. Even if yourcustomer is a “prima donna”, it is your customer, and your compensation and ratings are dependent on, most likely, several individuals like him/her. Make them look good, and you benefit; if you are remiss in giving proper support, you both suffer. They don’t get the sale, and you might get the criticism.
- Always document well…but don’t use it as a hammer. When a sales professional works to procure business, they often read proposals from suppliers and vendors for hours. As a matter of fact, they see so many that they often get confused. Be clear in your documents and your presentation, and realize that they will make a mistake at some point; you just hope it is not an expensive one. If you can, consider helping them, yet the clarity of the information and your documentation will protect you.
- Always be discreet. Do not discuss their business or affairs with any of your other customers or contacts. Treat them the way you would like to be treated in that regard.
Get the most out of your contacts!
Your value to your customer comes in your knowledge of your product and process, and your ability to sell to them based on your understanding of what the customer needs. Your objective is to make this person successful, and thus a believer in you…then you will meet your production goals!
In the end, they will acknowledge you and your input into their success…or at least we hope they will. Let’s put it this way, they will recognize it, and hopefully acknowledge it. The most important thing is that they will contribute to your success.
Your comments are welcome.