Articles from December 2010

Your Customers Need An Expert

consultant meeting

In our continuing discussion of the” 7 Success Essentials for the Black Sales Professional”, we want to discuss the advantages of being an expert. In this case we are talking about being either a product expert, or an industry expert, or both. This tactic can not be taken lightly. These can be a game changer!

These tactics for increasing customer and employer confidence are extremely effective. They can be used separately, or together, and either way are powerful. If used together they can reduce the effects caused by both preference and perception.  They don’t change or negate the prejudice that lies deep down in individual, nothing does. But combined, these two items create a “preference” of their own. The preference is real when you have something that others don’t have.

I’m going to touch on both of these for you.

The Power of the Product Expert

Your customers need a product expert. I’m not talking about just having product knowledge; I am speaking of you being a true product expert. The following scenarios note a true product expert.

A Product expert:

  • Is continuously sought out by customers and your own coworkers for advice, opinions, and interpretations
  • Knows more than product features and benefits, he or she knows every nuance of the product’s attributes and functionality
  • Is knowledgeable about competitor’s products and the competitive landscape
  • Is prepared to admit competitor’s strengths and his/her product’s weaknesses when they are well defined
  • Researches, researches, researches, then shares the knowledge with deserving parties, even if there is a little self-promotion in the process
  • Gets designations, certifications, and degrees if necessary to show the expertise

Product experts are as important to the organization that they work for as they are to the customer.

The Power of the Industry Expert

Attaining status as an industry expert is an equally powerful position.  It involves not being just familiar with the industry (banking, insurance, automotive parts, hospital products, healthcare, telecommunication, etc.), it involves having a recognized ‘database’ of information, ideas, and suggestions built around your prospect, industry, and product.  How do you get there?  You get there by study, research, maintaining logs and notes, participating and hard work.

An industry expert:

  • Studies the competitive landsccape and knows each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Knows how your product helps the industry, including the niches which fare best with your product
  • Knows the economics of the industry
  • Is up to date on the legislative environment, if important, and any developments
  • Is sought out by others for their industry knowledge

A Word of Advice

The most important thing to realize is that most buyers in need of expertise don’t care what color you are if you can help him/her gain a competitive advantage when no one else can. He or she may or may not develop loyalty to you, but will do business with you.  Your job will be to cultivate that loyalty during the course of your relationship to win the buyer over.

You potentially can reduce the effects of two of the 3Ps with these two essentials.  Perception and Preference can be “trumped” by being the expert in these two vital areas.  These normally will not work well on Prejudice as it is deep seated and powerful. These could be a start to a new relationship with many buyers.  More on actual Prejudice in the upcoming posts.

I am looking  forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue.  Please post a comment.  Be heard!

7 Success Essentials for the Black Sales Professional

Man with Gears Sometimes good is not good enough” If you are a black sales professional in B2B or B2P you understand the premise. It is not good enough to be a solid sales person.  It is factual that it does not matter that you are good, or even the best of the professionals courting this company, you have a little more pigmentation.  This changes the playing field. Whether you embrace this theory are not, it is tough being a Black sales professional in a White business world.   As a matter of fact, sometimes, yet not all of the time, it is downright unfair.

Remember… You are selling to an individual!

Embrace the fact that you are selling to an individual, no matter whether  the business is a machine shop down the street, or a Fortune 1000 company. Yes, an individual.  We cannot speak of these companies as if they are monolithic, there is an individual who is the “Gatekeeper” who is going to reject or receive you. As a result we will discuss the tactics that will help you be successful.

The 3Ps – Perceptions, Preferences, Prejudices

If you will recall last week’s inaugural blog, the 3Ps where introduced.  Each individual who is a “Gatekeeper” comes with their own set of concerns. This is natural. You will be initially assessed on the basis of what I call “The 3Ps”:

  • Preferences–  based on their level of comfort of who they want to work with
  • Perceptions–  based on their life experiences, good and bad
  • Prejudices–  based on their life experiences and their level of comfort

All decision-makers are subject to the 3P’s. It does not matter whether they are white, black, or otherwise, the 3P’s will have an effect on their decisions about who they allow “inside.”  In most cases, in B2B sales, your “Gatekeeper” will be White.  Although you cannot change the 3P’s  of this buyer in one stroke, there are tactics that you can employ which aid change process.

7  Success Essentials for Black Sales Professionals

Having these will give confidence, assurance, and credibility that you can be an answer to their problems and needs:

  1. Be the product expert – the ‘go to’ person for your customers and your own organization
  2. Be a consummate professional – Timely, responsive, quick to communicate
  3. Be an industry expert – Know your customer’s business better than all of your competitors
  4. Develop deep solid business relationships – garner high levels of commitment from your customer
  5. Be a true expert of the sales process – Be an expert of the sales process
  6. Give superior, unparalleled service – Set the standard for all others
  7. Be a “Visionary” – Anticipate your customer’s needs as your customer’s organization changes and your own organization changes as well

At first blush, these may seem oversimplified.  In the upcoming posts of this blog, we will be in depth in our coverage of the tactics and how they relate to the 3P’s.

In the Weeks to Come

If you are a committed professional I hope you will follow this journal through the posts that follow as well as the upcoming posts regarding timely and significant topics for the Black Sales professional.  Please check the tab showing “Upcoming Posts” for Your comments are welcome, and I am counting on them.  I will be sharing them with the readership, and collectively we can provide the answers.

Please feel free to comment, we need your input.