I have found that bushido means to die. It means that when one has to choose between life and death, one just quickly chooses the side of death. There is nothing else to consider. One simply makes up one’s mind and pushes ahead.
The idea that if one fails to achieve one’s objective one dies a ‘dog’s death,’ and similar conceptions, is nothing but the slick bushido of the city samurai from Kyoto and Osaka. When one has to choose between life and death, there is not time to worry whether one’s individual objective is achieve. All of us prefer to live, so we can always find reasons for staying alive.
If one lives though one intended to die, it is cowardice. It is a perilous line that divides the two. If one dies when on intended to live, then it might be regarded as death in vain or craziness, but one will not incur any shame.
This is to be a real man of bushido. If every morning and every evening one dies anew, one will become as one who is permanently dead. Thus will one obtain a realm of freedom in bushido, and be able to fulfill one’s duty to the house for one’s whole life without falling into error.
Hagakure – Yamamoto Tsuenetomo
Your dream client’s respect is built on complex combination of your honesty, your integrity, your credibility, your business acumen, and your ability to deliver. Your dream client doesn’t respect subservience or fear; they want an equal, a partner.
Being fearful, being afraid to do what you know to be right for fear of losing a deal is a certain path to a lack of respect, subservience, and being treated like nothing more than a commodity.
Being Fearful Doesn’t Build Respect
Being fearful of your dream client isn’t the way to earn—or deserve—their respect. You have to be able to ask your dream client for what you need in order to create the result that they need. This means that you have to ask for access to the stakeholders and buying committee members so that you can better understand their vision and how to build your solution. This means you have to ask for commitments that your dream client may not want to give you and that they haven’t given your competitors.
It means you have to do what is right to both win the deal and to produce the results you sold; often this means that you have to set the agenda, incorporating your dream client’s buying process needs—not ceding complete control of the deal. This is especially true when ceding control hurts both you and your dream client.
This is part of the great game of sales. And being able to ask for what you need without fear is the difference between being a vendor and being a partner.
More still, your dream client isn’t looking to hire a fearful, subservient vendor (if they were, they would not be a dream client, they would be something else altogether). They are looking for an equal. They want a business manager. They want someone that they can count on to produce the result that they need to move their business forward. And they are willing to give you what you need to do so.
Consultative Selling Requires Respect
If you would be a consultative seller, you have to have the business acumen and situational knowledge to be able to win deals and produce the results that you promise. Being a consultative seller means that you have to have the confidence that comes from being able to help your dream clients achieve results.
Being a consultative seller means selling something more than the product or service. It means selling a real and tangible business improvement. If you would be a consultative seller, you have to know how to ask for and to obtain what you need from your dream client to give them that result. Without fear.
Anything less isn’t consultative selling.
Anything less is acting like a vendor.
Anything less makes you a commodity.
The Confidence of Not Needing Any One Deal
So, what’s with the Samurai stuff at the beginning of this post?
To receive the respect that you deserve, you must go into every deal (with every dream client) with the ability to lose that deal (not that you won’t fight until the very end, as bitter as they sometimes may be). Without the ability to lose the deal at any stage, you are forced to behave in a manner that is inconsistent with both your ability to win the deal and your future ability to produce results.
Without the ability to lose the deal, you will sacrifice what you know to be right for what you believe to be safe. But you will lose much more in the bargain.
None of this is easy. But none of being respected requires that you act in any way that is adversarial, confrontational, or unprofessional. Instead, it requires that you act with the honesty, integrity, credibility, and confidence of a professional. It requires that you possess the business acumen to create the value that makes you a partner, and one worth respecting and treating as an equal.
There is an enormous difference between respecting your client and being subservient and fearful. Salespeople who fear losing choose to be subservient and fearful, and by doing so, they lose their dream client’s respect and their opportunity.
- What causes you to cede control of the deal completely? What do you believe that prevents you from asking for what you know you need to win the deal and serve your client well later, should you win?
- What prevents you for asking for the commitments that allow you to properly operate your sales process, gaining access to the individuals who can help inform your solution and access to the information that will make your solution the right choice?
- How does your dream client perceive subservience? How does your dream client perceive fear? Why would they choose a subservient and fearful vendor over a confident, value-creating consultative seller? In the long run, which of the two is best positioned to achieve the result that their client needs?
- What do you have to do to ensure that you can take the right action, even if it means losing the deal? Is it better to lose deals than to enter into them without the ability to produce the results that you have promised?
- How does being prepared to lose help you to win?
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