I keep hearing business to business selling or B2B. I have seen this in job postings, articles, everywhere. It is common work jargon. The idea that a business is selling to another business seemed always ridiculous. For example does Slack really sell to NASA? Of course not. However, the B2B phrase permeates a bad mindset. I find people lose sight that there is no such thing as B2B. Only P2P or person to person selling. People forget the human aspect of selling, marketing, and engineering a product or service. Everything is personal. There is no such thing as B2B.
Why is this important? It has everything to do with being successful. More importantly, how do you differentiate yourself from the competition? Here are some tips or strong suggestions you need to incorporate. I reference a customer in this post, but this can be a prospect, user, etc.
There is an art to being a good listener. A big misconception in sales is you have to be a good talker. Garbage. The most important skill you need for a meeting is to spend more time listening. Funny thing happens when you listen more. You get actually get good information. Useful information. That is your time to collect information to build a good proposal and have a better understanding of the opportunity.
People actually appreciate you are listening to them. Mainly because most people do not. This subtle interaction in a meeting can make a huge difference in the outcome. Here is a simple exercise you can try. Ask a question, then stop, then listen.
I guarantee you will find a more productive outcome. A high five at least.
No, not a typo. It is a dramatic emphasis on how important it is to listen.
This one may be the hardest one to conquer. A key part of listening is you really have to care about what is coming back. You have to have a genuine interest in the customer. Their industry and application. What the customer is trying to accomplish. The company culture. Being genuine and actually caring goes a long way. Again, mainly because many people do not care. They are too self interested.
Be conscious of the time. If a prospect set aside 30 minutes to meet with you then stick to the allotted time. I will even remind everyone our time is up. I want my customer to know I’m not going to sneak extra time just for the sake of it. Time is precious and if my customer says it is ok to continue then we continue. It is like a house guest who overstayed their welcome and doesn’t get the idea to get out. You don’t want to be that person. Take the customer’s perspective in mind. They have other shit to do.
DON’T BE A JERK
Don’t be offended. I mean well. Seriously though, I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to see meetings get derailed because someone decided to be a jerk. Or you’ll see people approach the conversation in battle mode ready to land some punches. See the tips above. Take a step back and realize why you are there. Also remind other colleagues in the meeting why they are there. Keep your cool at all costs.
EVERYONE IS IN SALES
Hallelujah! This is one my quests in life to get people to realize they are in sales. Everyone. You in marketing. You in engineering. You in management. You in operations. Everyone means everyone. I’ll have more on this key topic later. I’ll point out sales isn’t a bad thing. Do not take it in a negative way. If you are running your business with the mindset laid out above, then everyone is “winning”. People are getting the right solution. Company gets more sales. There are no cons here.
I have laid out some important topics which I will expand upon. My hope is you will take a different view next time you visit a customer or build a product. By the way, this can apply to all aspects of your life as well. Just saying.
The takeaway is if you are in the business of building an app for example. Maybe take a look at how a user may use the app. Not from your perspective. From the user perspective. I wish someone from Concur (the expense app) would contact me. I have so many suggestions for you. Why does it take 10 steps to fill out an expense? Good app but not great yet.
Steve Jobs was well known to be obsessed with the user experience. Take a more human approach and connect on a personal level. You will see a dramatic improvement. You are leaving money on the table by not taking a more person to person approach.
The next challenge is getting everyone in the organization to be on the same page. We will save that for another day.