I was lying: to my coworkers, to my customers, and to myself. I was trying like hell to “fit the mold” of the best salesperson and it just wasn’t working out for me. Turns out imitating top sales reps and replicating their tactics didn’t guarantee success. It was actually a total fail.
It wasn’t until I realized ME not being ME was not only a disservice to myself, it was a disservice to my customers. Fake, scripted conversations: easy to identify and like “nails on a chalkboard” to a customer. The moment I started allowing my authentic self, personality, and sass to come through was the minute my sales doubled.
That was nine years ago. Now my client relationships are stronger than ever and most importantly, they trust me.
Here are my mantras for building solid, authentic, and lasting relationships as a sales person:
Mantra 1: You are just as important as your customer.
We are so quick to hammer our customers with a million questions: when is the last time you shared something about yourself? What does your customer know about you other than you are selling X and you are with company Z? You are a human too, ya know? Try sharing something about yourself. I think every client of mine has seen a picture of my baby, Fiona, and knows all about her. And my wedding, and my weekend, etc. You would be surprised how much you have in common with your customers and how much they will remember about you!
Mantra 2: Your one-track mind will lose you a sale.
We are taught, “Close the deal. Don’t get off the phone until you close a deal.” Guess what? That’s not realistic. It takes shutting up and listening to how our customer’s company works and not make demands based on what is good for our own pockets. You want to separate yourself in your customer’s mind? Establish agreeable timelines at the front of the conversation instead of the “wheel and deal” approach.
Mantra 3: If it’s FUN, you are doing it right.
A good sign you are sharing your authentic self is laughter, on both ends of the phone. We are all under some pressure; deadlines, sales goals, loaded inboxes, etc. Why not keep it light and joke a bit with your customers? Professionally, of course. One of my favorite quotes is, “Always leave someone better than when you found them.” Is your phone call or email adding positivity or negativity? I ask myself that before making a dial or hitting the send button.
Mantra 4: Always turn a negative into a positive.
Let’s get real: issues pop up. It’s the people who can get creative and find a way to turn the negative into a positive who maintain longstanding relationships. It’s not easy. But it’s possible. I recently was dreading an unavoidable price increase conversation with a client. Fearful I would lose the project I decided to call the customer and talk through it first. I had never worked with this individual but thankfully I work regularly with his counterpart who shared our strong relationship. He completely understood about the price increase and the project advanced. By the end of the call he knew about my baby, I learned about his two dogs, and discussed a new global expansion project.
Mantra 5: Always do your best.
It sounds basic, but it’s not. We constantly have the choice to do our best. I am writing this at 4:28 PM on a Friday as I wait for a large PO on this sunny, summer, Chicago afternoon. Would I rather be outside? YES! But my best is doing what I say I was going to do: process this order by the end of the week to keep my customer and partner happy. That’s my best. My best is different than your best. Always be asking yourself, “Is this really MY best?”
So I ask you: what would your clients say makes you unique, stand-out, or memorable? Do you leave conference calls or meetings energizing those around you, even if it’s to deliver bad news? Are you doing YOUR best, or simply the minimum to move on to the next deal?
Stop holding back. The world craves the real you, which includes your business. Some will like you, and some will not. But if you are honest, kind, and REAL, you will attract more honest, kind, and REAL clients.
Steal these mantras. Make them YOUR mantras. Print them out. Hang them up and practice them daily. This new, authentic perspective could just be what you were missing.