old fashioned selling
As with lots of things in life, sometimes the oldies are just the best and I think nothing is truer than that old-fashioned saying that ‘people buy people.’
I know sales has moved on lots in recent years and now is increasingly seen as a truly professional career. But sometimes I think the basic principles need to be looked at.
Too often the plethora of high-tech gadgets and mobile assistance programs now available to the modern business person can actually stand in the way of something that should be a simple and basic process.
For example, my CEO, in common with many truly busy business people, has the attention span of a gnat and unless you get your point across to him in the first three words of a meeting, you have absolutely no chance of getting what you want from the meeting. On countless occasions I have given advice to various salesmen and consultants attempting to explain to them that they need to try and adapt their style to match his to give themselves the best chance of getting a better outcome. Often, people do not listen, plough on ahead regardless and walk away frustrated and without having won the pitch.
On one occasion, we were courting a number of different consultants to help us with a really large group-wide project. The tedious beauty parade of people coming in to sell their business commenced and I was stunned to see hundreds of pages of PowerPoint being wheeled out in front of our CEO despite the fact I had given them the advice to keep it brief.
One of the consultants was a bit more down to earth, very personable and, to be honest, I knew our Exec team would get on with him. It went without saying he would be able to do the job; sometimes it is down to personality, so I told him a little bit about our CEO, who had repeatedly complained that often all this PowerPoint rubbish just winds him up, ‘If it does not fit on the back of a fag packet, I am going to lose interest.’
So, when the day of the pitch came, this salesman came in with some Starbucks coffee sat down at the table and handed over an empty packet of cigarettes, which had the outline of the pitch on the back. I could tell by the big grin on the CEO’s face that the guy had it in the bag and, sure enough, once he had elaborated with a few pictorial slides, he was given the contract on the spot (now worth £1.2M across 18 months).
So take some helpful advice from the Gatekeeper – you need to adapt your style and get people to buy into you. I think too many salespeople today have forgotten this simple old-fashioned approach and sometimes, stripping out the jargon, technology and acronyms and getting down to a people level can go a long way.