If you want to create a higher level of value for your clients, you need business acumen and situational knowledge. You need insight, and not just the insight that marketing built into your new slide deck. The real action in sales is not in selling your client your product, service, or solution. The real value is in knowing how to help your clients improve their results.
Got Chops? Use ‘Em!: Look, the reason you need business acumen and situational knowledge to sell is because your dream clients need new ideas. They need help discovering what they need to do to produce better results. They need to know what options are available. And for all of the talk about how much research they’re doing, you’d never know it from their insatiable hunger for new ideas. You need to share the ideas that you have with your dream clients. I know some people want to withhold value, waiting to share ideas until they are already engaged with their dream client. But you need to share your best ideas right out of the gate if you are going to be given a chance to play. If you’ve got the chops, use them. If you don’t yet have the chops, hustle to get some.
Know Your Business, Their Business, and The Industry: If you want to be a trusted advisor, you have to know your business. That doesn’t mean your product, even though you do have to have product knowledge. It means you need to know how your business works, how you create value, and your place in the value chain. You also need to know your client’s business. You need to do your homework to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and their position in their space. You also do well to speak their language. If you serve a few verticals, you need to understand how their industry works. What are they dealing with right now? What kind of challenges do their clients or customers throw at them? The role of salesperson is now the role of businessperson. Your business acumen counts for more than your sales acumen.
Port Over New Ideas: If you have experience helping one set of customers, share what you are doing with your dream client and see if you can port those ideas over. Open up a dialogue and collaborate to figure out what might have to change to make something that works in one industry work in your dream client’s industry. Your dream clients know that you are out in the world dealing with other companies in other industries. They expect you to share what you are learning with them. Share what you’ve learned serving some customers and work to port over what works.
Provide Proof: If you want your ideas to gain any traction, you are going to need to provide proof. You need stories that describe the challenges that your dream clients have and how you are helping them produce better results. Remember, they have to defend bringing you in to discuss change. You have to arm them if they are to succeed. Give them case studies. Give them stories, vignettes, and anecdotes. Give them white papers. Sometimes even a spreadsheet is proof enough. It’s great that you have insight, but you need to back it up.
If you don’t have a plan to develop chops, stop what you are doing and write that plan now. Your future hangs in the balance. Creating and sustaining relationships of value is built on your ability to make a difference in your dream client’s business.
Got chops? Are you using them?
How much do you know about your dream client’s business? How much do you know about their industry?
What ideas do you have that are working in one industry vertical that might be ported over to another? What would have to change? Which of your dream clients is game enough to play with you?
You’ve got the ideas. But do you have the proof to back them up? What stories can you tell? What format do you need to provide proof that is compelling to your prospective clients?
Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.