1. Move From Products and Solutions to Outcomes
The first way to improve your ability to achieve outcomes and real results for your clients is to abandon the old ways of thinking about sales. Sales has changed. It has shifted dramatically and in ways that make it unrecognizable to some, and impossible for others.
We no longer sell products. We no longer sell solutions. We now sell business results and performance acceleration. Understanding this shift isn’t difficult. Taking responsibility and acting according to this shift is as complicated and difficult as any modern business problem.
Instead of ensuring that your product was delivered on time, you now have to ensure that the client achieved the result that you promised when you sold the product. Instead of ensuring your solution worked as promised, you now have to ensure that the solution produced the result it was intended to, be it greater profitability, lower costs, greater competitiveness, or any number of business outcomes. This is not your father’s Chevy!
Think about the deals you are working on now. What are they really buying? What are you really selling? After you make the sale, in what way will their business be transformed? What is the business outcome that will transform it? How do you ensure that they achieve this outcome?
These questions aren’t easy to answer. Ensuring that the outcome is achieved is anything but easy. Doing so will require all of the preceding sales skills and attributes as well as the success attributes this series of posts has addressed.
2. Take Responsibility for the Outcome
Someone has to be responsible for the client achieving the outcome that you sold. That someone is you! Ultimately, regardless of the organizational chart and regardless of how the responsibilities are laid out on the project implementation plan, you are responsible for what you sold. Don’t believe me? Ask the client who they think is responsible. Ask them who they think is responsible when the train goes off the tracks.
By taking responsibility, you empower yourself to take action, instead of waiting to be acted upon. Empowering yourself gives you the permission to act. It makes you the de facto leader. It says: “I care more about the client getting the outcome than anybody else!” To which everyone concerned will reply: “Okay.” They will act accordingly (and, if anybody is more concerned and more aggressively taking the steps to ensure your client gets the outcome you sold, well, that is the happiest of circumstances, now isn’t it?).
Take responsibility for the outcomes you sell as if your success depends on it. Make your personal brand stands for something more than making sure the delivery truck arrived on time.
3. Get Help! Rally the Troops!
Owning the outcomes is a form of leadership and empowerment, but it doesn’t mean you can, will, or should act alone. Getting results is messy, and sometimes the mess is more than you can take care of by yourself.
The key here is not only to get your team, their team, and outside help engaged in whatever needs done to get the outcome, but to get them in early and often. Problems don’t age well. The sooner you recognize that you need help, the more likely you can prevent a small challenge from growing up to be a result-killing monster of a problem. Kill the problems in the cradle.
Look at the deals you are implementing now. What are the problems, challenges, and obstacles that may prevent your client from achieving the outcome you sold? Who do you need to help you fix it? Who has the subject-matter expertise? Who has the political capital? Who has the budget? Who has the authority to make the changes? Who from the client organization can help?
Answer these questions and get moving on a solution, lest your little problem have the time to grow up to be something much worse.
4. Verify, Verify, Verify
Is the outcome being achieved? What are the results? You have to answer these questions by verifying that what you have sold is working. And then verify again, and verify again.
Too much can go wrong. Early results may be good and then disappear. You cannot disappear. Managing outcomes requires that you verify that the results are being achieved and to regularly ensure that they continue to do so. It is continuously verifying that the outcomes are being achieved or that changes needed to achieve the outcomes you sold are being implemented and executed upon.
Verify. Verify. And verify again.
Stop. Drop everything. Make the calls and make the visits to your clients to verify that they are getting the outcomes. If they aren’t, you know what to do!
Salespeople don’t sell product or services; they sell outcomes. Successful salespeople manage these outcomes for their clients and their companies, ensuring that they achieve the results and the outcome that they sold. Follow these steps to better manage your client’s outcomes.