Nobody Buys a Leader
They buy servants
Does your marketing literature proclaim that your company is a market leader? Does it say something like, "we are the leading producer of …" or something similar? If so, you're not alone. Proclaiming your market position seems to be the first lesson of marketing 101. Guess what? No one cares. Customers care if your solutions will solve their problem. If it can't, then all of these self-serving proclamations are not worth the paper they are printed on.
It's easy to proclaim that you are a market leader. Why? It feels good. It is reassuring and reaffirming to describe yourself as the best. If you believe you're the best, then theoretically other people should too. But take a moment and think about the last major purchase you made for your company or for yourself. Was the product's market position the first thing you considered in your buying criteria? Probably not.
We don't buy leaders. We buy servants. The accounting firm auditing your books is not a leader. They are servants. The CRM software you use to track your activities is not a leader. It's a servant. The car you drive on sales calls is not a leader. It's a servant. I can keep going, but I am sure you get my point. We buy when we have a need. The happier we are with our purchases is a reflection of how well the product served us and how enjoyable the buying experience was.
It's important to change the focus on selling to serving. Sales is inherently a form of leadership. You are selling a customer on what to do. You are persuading, demonstrating and motivating a buying decision in your favor. You are trying to lead your customers to you. It's time to stop navel gazing. These are me-centric notions. When you are selling it's all about you. Shouldn't it be all about your customers?
Try this on for size. Call yourself a servant. Your job is to serve your customers. Your job is to help them solve problems. When you reframe your position to a Servant Sales Person a whole world of opportunities opens up. It becomes easier to qualify your prospects, and weight which ones you can help most effectively first. It is easier to allocate your limited time and resources to the areas you can have the most impact. Becoming a servant makes you a better sales person.
We have all experienced great Servant Sales People. Think of those times that you have really enjoyed the purchasing experience. Common descriptors of these events are: the sales person found just what I was looking for; he understood me; it was fun. The sales person and the buyer were in sync. The sales person anticipated his customer's needs, and was able to proactively come up with solutions. Anyone who has bought suits, whether male or female, knows how beneficial a great sales person can be. They tell you when the clothes look terrible on you, and they find you ones that make you look great. This attitude and attention to your customer's needs can be brought to almost every product or service you sell.
Being a Servant Sales Person is not a menial task. The term servant is misleading, because it creates connotations of domination and obedience. This is definitely not the case in sales. If you want to hit quota you have to be proactive. You have to anticipate your customer's needs early, and be prepared to come up with resolutions quickly. To serve in sales is to anticipate, act and make your customer's buying experience enjoyable and painless.
It's easy to get caught up in a leadership mindset. It's where your ego wants you to be. I know my ego screams when I tell it I am a servant. It wants to win. It wants me to lead. But my customers want me to serve them. Being a servant is a very powerful position. The most influential person in the kingdom is the King's head servant. Why? Because the King relies on him. The head servant isn't persuading the King; he is helping him. If the King goes off in the wrong direction the servant will tell him. He may say, “You can cut off my head, but I think you are making a mistake.” This commitment to the King's success is where the servant's authority and trust comes from. This is the role you want with your customers too.
Jeremy Miller is a Partner with LEAPJob, a sales recruiting firm in Toronto, Canada. LEAPJob recruits sales professionals and sales leaders for many of Canada's most recognized companies. Their clients range from the Top 50 Employers to smaller organizations building their first sales force. You can reach Jeremy at Jeremy.Miller@LEAPJob.com or 905.281.3090, Ext. 22. For more information on LEAPJob please visit http://www.LEAPJob.com.