The internet is full of information for business owners. Some great, some not so great and some just truly awful. And these days, everyone seems to be an ‘expert’.
In my recent travels I came across a sales expert. Now as business owners who work with other business owners, Greg and I know that sales are pretty important to cash flow and growing your business. So I decided to have a closer look. But the more I saw, read and heard from this so called expert, the more frustrated I became. Let me tell you why.
The expert had a ‘system’. The system was very process driven (yes, I’m an accountant and I like process, but this was really stiff and formal). It was also very dismissive of the prospect/customer. For example, at the beginning of the sales process, you shouldn’t answer their questions before you’d locked them into ‘buying’ mode with a ton of them answering your questions first. And if the prospect didn’t give the ‘right’ answers or wanted to talk to you like a human, you were to ‘get tough on them’ and stop that right there an then – because you weren’t there to be the prospect’s ‘therapist’.
No, sadly, I’m not kidding. Really talking to our clients is what helps us get to know them better and provide better, more tailored advice. Anything less would be cookie cutter accounting and we don’t want to go there.
So although this expert said they’d been using the system for 20 years and gave evidence of it working (for them), it was a system that was mostly suited to them. The worst part was the inference that if you didn’t use that system not only was there something wrong with you, but that you’d likely miss out on the greater majority of sales from that point forward – especially now you knew better.
I can imagine that if I used her tips on our Mason Lloyd customers, they’d walk away feeling manipulated, hustled and frankly, rather miffed – in fact, I can imagine them running for the door. It was all a bit too churn and burn for my liking. Maybe it works if you’re in high pressure selling where quantity of sales through the door, rather than quality of relationships matters most.
But if you’re in business for yourself, what matters are long-term relationships.
So if you’re in a business that requires more than a one-hit wonder with your customers, it’s far better to;
- be really interested in and respectful of your customer/prospect
- spend the time forging a real connection with them and
- remain true to yourself whilst doing it.
What you do must be right for you
Most likely, you’ve a pretty good idea of what works for you, what doesn’t and how close you’re willing to sail to the edge. If you’ve been in business more than five minutes, you will have a business style and a process that will work for you too. Whilst, yes, we could probably all do with some tweaks from time to time – from someone who knows our business, if you radically deviate from who you are, it will feel ‘wrong’ – both for you and your customer. And the second it feels wrong or incongruent for your customer, let’s just say, it’s not going to end well.
When you buy someone else’s system – no matter how good it is – you still have to do the work. Often that’s the bit of advice that’s left out for the much easier thought of the system doing all the work. Not only that, but if you purchase the ‘system’ you have to significantly tailor what you’ve been sold to make it go anywhere near working for you. Which will, let’s face it, probably take just as long as doing it yourself anyway. Of course, nothing beats sitting down with a trusted mentor or experienced adviser (who actually runs a business) and running through your process looking for tweaks.
If you’re looking for an experienced business adviser – who actually owns a business – to run something you’re considering for your business by, I’d love to talk to you. You can call Kerry on 6023 1700, drop us a note or connect with Kerry on LinkedIn.