The Right-Brain 'Art' of Sales vs. the Left-Brain 'Analytic' – Musings on Media from the 'Sell' Side, with Occasional Forays into Music…and Wine
How Do You Solve Your Key Sales Problem[s]?
Yeah, about that question that is the title: How DO you solve your Key Sales Problems? Because if you don’t have a method, or some style, path or approach that you take, it is very likely not adding to your Sales success. Why?
The reason, simply stated: Key Sales Problems represent both your greatest Challenge–and therefore your greatest Opportunity–to sell any particular client. Solve what no one else can solve, and by default, you will almost certainly land the business.
I have found that taking the shackles off of any sales problem/issue/challenge, and looking at with a ‘Blank Canvas’ point of view, almost always helps me achieve a solution far better than I ever would have thought possible at first glance. But it really needs to be blank-canvas in order to work. No worrying [yet] if your Company policy won’t allow ‘x’ to happen. No stopping [yet] your thought process because ‘y’ is something that’s never been done before. If you look at the problem point-blank, you’ll work around those, devise a solution that works despite these…or something else entirely.
My fave example here? Easy:
I was working a while back with a Media property and its related local companies, that had a dismal record in selling Ad programs to what is still the largest regional ad client in their market area. After having it assigned to me [and also pecking away at it for weeks/months with no more success than my predecessors], I finally looked at the history of the entire Sales effort prior to my arrival, and came to realize that the most important item had been overlooked: No one, from ANY of the firms, had EVER approached, talked to, or met with the President of this regional operation. Ever. In more than 5 years. Not even a single call to approach this gentleman, at all! It was incredible to think on, once I verified this was true.
So, in turning the problem upside-down like this, it gave me a possible solution. I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so…why I wouldn’t approach this important man? What, he’d say ‘no, I won’t meet you’? Or he’d never return my call? Well, that’s what Sales is about, isn’t it? And no one had ever contacted him anyway, so no matter what, I was still in front of the game here. Even so, having some amount of trepidation, I made a single call to the President of this regional client. Within 20 minutes, 20 minutes, he was returning my call, with an Intro meeting being set with him by me. Here is part of what he said: “Yes, I am aware your firm has been talking to my ad agency for years, but I’ve never gotten a call from you guys before, ever. And I could never understand why…” I went on to have that meeting, put all the pieces together, and sell that business where more than 25 others, Sr Execs included, had failed.
In summary, some of what I do to solve Key Sales Problems:
Try starting, with a blank slate, and look at the issue/problem/challenge from every angle, beginning/end, top/bottom, upside/down & then the reverse.
Again, anything that is not possible, not approved or never done before, is left on the table for now, and not [yet] taken out of the equation.
Once [possible] solutions are arrived at, then start to look at impediments that might not allow this to happen; i.e. logistics, policy, etc.
Ask questions of yourself, the policies, the roadblocks, all along the way. Look at why they are there. Look at alternatives where none exist.
Of course you never want to violate your company’s policies, but sometimes they change. Sometimes they CAN change, if perhaps because no one knows why a certain one might exist, and is blocking major customer sales efforts. You’ll take 7 ‘no’s’ from your prospects. Why not 7 within your firm as well, to get a sale done? [Diplomatically, respectfully, of course.]
Last, and maybe most important: always, always…reverse the question or problem. Ask it backwards. Then flip those upside down, too, one more time. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with. I always am.
This process may seem unorthodox, and burdensome. Many will think it a waste of time. The number of excellent solutions to Key Sales Problems I’ve arrived at across many different Media properties tells me that this process works. What works for you?
Please share your ideas, thoughts & approaches below!