We are ALL salespeople - so let's get better at it!
Excuse me, but are you a salesperson? Most people will answer no. They might say they are in customer service, in IT, in systems design, in process control, but not in sales. And they definitely don't want to be associated with sales.
So to them (you?) I ask another question - do you interact with people? If you say yes, then you are in sales! Why? Because every time you interact with someone, ask someone for a favour, propose an idea for consideration, we are selling. Not for money, mind you. But for something in exchange. Whenever you can get someone to give up something in return for something you have, you have sold to them. And if you've had many people help you, cooperate with you or did you a favour, then you are a GREAT salesperson!
But what has this got to do with being strategic?
When we look at it, there is always an intent in selling something. There are definitely success factors (make a million bucks!) in sales. There are constraints (provided that you can work within a certain sector, a time slot, a product mix) and there certainly are drivers (decision-makers, needs to be met, value, price). Ultimately, there are options - different ways to get people to agree to parting something (their money, time, resources) for your services. So, when we come to think of it, selling is a strategic activity. And it's time we get better at it. Here's how:
1. Get your intent right
If you are only concerned about making a fast buck, you will not do well in sales. Sales is about relationships, and the best intent is not to get something from the other person, but to develop a true and lasting relationship. In time, that person will want to give you something, just because you were there.
2. Provide the best options
The right decision stems from the right options. And the best option is one which seeks win-win. I have never found myself in the need to negotiate; not because I am bad at it, but simply because I am great at being strategic. I never see a situation as me-vs-you; instead I look upon it as me-and-you. I try to make sure that what we have is something that you will need. Not because of me; but because of you. By looking at all challenges as a means to bridge that gap, by opening solutions that even I have not thought about a minute ago, I am being strategic. And I am thinking win-win.
3. See it from another perspective
As strategic thinking is about looking at your situation from different perspectives, then sales must be seen in different perspectives as well. When someone says "No" to you, do you get upset? Most of us are poor in accepting rejection. Many take it personally. They may even go into a funk, blaming themselves and how lousy they are at it. But has it ever occurred to you that it is seldom about you? (Unless of course you are an obnoxious git!) When you shift your perspective, seeing the situation for the other person's point of view, or looking at your assumptions and stretching them, or examining your solutions and looking for fit, you might just realise that the issue is bigger than you. 'No' seldom ever is a rejection of you (or your relationship), it almost always means that the time, or the circumstances, is not right.
So are YOU in sales? Of course you are! In fact, so is everyone else! We therefore need a new paradigm for companies: that everyone is in sales! Treat sales as a strategic skill and apply strategic thinking onto it. You will ultimately end up doing so much better at it, and be happier too!
Written by Ian Dyason