One of the most common mistakes salespeople make is taking a short-sighted view of their sales strategy. Salespeople and sales managers are often more focused on their own immediate goals than they are on the needs of their customers. I know, cause I’ve been there. Where is my next commission coming from? Will I make my quota this month or this quarter?
How fast can I close this deal? Don’t tell me that these thoughts don’t run through your mind. The problem with this is that if you don’t think that your customer can sense where your priorities are, you have another think coming. Look, we all have to make a living, but to quote Clint Eastwood, “Dying ain’t much of a living.” When you place your needs before your customer’s needs, you’re killing your chances of making the sale. Whoever started teaching salespeople that you have to be aggressive and manipulative in order to make a sale did our profession a huge disservice. Sales is NOT about being pushy to the point of being obnoxious. Remember that old adage, “We all like to buy stuff, but we hate to be sold stuff.”
As a professional salesman you should be trying to solve your customers problems in an advisory, consulting and/or educational role. And the first thing that you need to come to grips with as a professional salesperson is that you CANNOT possibly be the best solution for every prospect. In my own career for example, I have come to realize that I don’t want to win every deal that I come across. First of all, I can’t possible service them sufficiently, but even more important than that, there are some customers that are just not worth my time. A low margin customer, for instance, just distracts me from providing better service to my higher margin customers.
Why not use the time that I would have wasted with a low margin customer to pay more attention to the customers that don’t mind paying for that attention? And here’s something for you to think about. I’ve found in my experience that it’s the low margin customers that are the most demanding and require the highest maintenance.
I’m willing to bet that if you think about your own experiences, you’ll find the same to be true in most of your cases. As an example, I used to have a business partner that would routinely beat up our vendors for lower prices and he was also a pain in the neck to deal with. He wanted personal attention, fast service and low prices. And to top it off, he wasn’t even a fun guy to do business with. If anything ever went wrong, even the slightest mistake, he would bark and roar at the top of his lungs to let everyone know that he was the boss. If he was my customer, I would have told him to shove off.
Come to think of it, I did tell him to shove off, that’s why he’s not my business partner anymore. But I digress. A long term outlook in sales allows you to think about building your client base over a period of months if not years. It gives you a different perspective about what deals to pursue and what deals to pass on. You begin to realize that you don’t have to close ever single deal, you don’t have to be a pushy salesperson and you don’t have to manipulate your customers. A long term sales strategy will allow you to build a portfolio of high margin accounts, of clients that are fun to work with and worthwhile business relationships.