Becoming Relevant

This past week I had a call from two borrowers who asked if I had an interest in a new project to finance for them.  When this happens, you have reached the a place of sales paradise when people believe so much that they are better when they are doing business with you, they will actively seek out you.  Each time I visited with the client, I had to smile because I know MWBS is relevant to them.

We attended the legislative social put on by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.  By the way, these hard-working folks put on a first rate event.  While I was there, I was asked by several credit unions who do business with us for additional help, they want us to help in more ways, to provide education for their loan committee on how to determine good and bad credits.  Again, another incident that we relevant to them.  Note you never are relevant to another person until they put you in that place.

The only higher place is when your clients will give testimony of what you do to others.  We also had people who have done business with us tell about how we are making a difference in their institutions, how we are helping them do deals that they could not do before, and how we are helping them expand their reach in the community.  When you get to that place, you are really relevant.  You are in a place where people bring business to you.  This is the ultimate Eden of Sales, a paradise all in sales should seek to find.

So how do you reach sales paradise?  I will first look at several paths that do not take you to the fine sandy beaches to watch the customer ships come into your harbor.  You can’t get there by criticizing competitors or others around you.  It is an easy trap to fall into, and we all have a little “one-ups-man-ship” inside us.  But you will never reach stratospheric heights while you are pressing down on the shoulders of others.

You don’t reach it by quoting a scripted list of all the features of your institution.  Product features are not relevant to the customer unless they fully understand the direct benefit to them. 

A listing of your resume’ or accomplishments may help begin to make you relevant in the client’s mind but it will not get you fully to sales paradise.  The client must actually experience that they are better with you.  They may be inclined to learn more, but being a constant megaphone of yourself will not get people to follow you.

The first step toward sales paradise begins with a strong belief.  Remember you are creating something, a sales relationship, out of nothing, and this begins in your mind.  You have to believe that your company and product is the best for your client.  You have to believe that you are the best and when your client comes to you, you will make a real positive difference in his life.  This is not an arrogance, far from it.  It is a quiet confidence that wells up inside you which is a huge attraction to others. 

The next step comes with a positive attitude.  Let’s face it, we all have a lot of crap that we have to deal with each day.  It is easy to get down and attitude makes all the difference.  I once heard of a man with two sons.  One was a Positive Pete, the other was Negative Neil.  One Christmas, the gentlemen decided to try an experiment.  He bought all the expensive toys, game systems, and bikes for Neil but for Pete, he filled his room with horse manure.

A few hours after all the gifts were open, he checked on his sons.  Neil had all these cool toys and gifts around, but was still unhappy.  The games were too hard, some things did not work, and others were not what he wanted.

Pete, on the other hand, was busy up in his room singing as he shoveled manure.  His dad asked him, “Son, how can you be so happy with all this manure in your room?”

“Dad, with all this poop, there has to be a pony in here somewhere!” was his reply.  Now here is an example of a positive attitude!

The third item is to have a genuine interest in the client.  Ask questions, shut up, and listen to the answers.  What motivates them?  What are their hopes, fears, and goals?  What makes a difference to them?  This has to be an authentic interest, for people will pick up what is phony.  Your influence will begin with others when you consistently place other people’s interests ahead of your own.  My wife always says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Finally, lead by giving value.  Note that nowhere here have I mentioned anything about closing a sale.  You have to give before you are ready to receive the closed sale.  Seek to find a way to give to enrich their business, their family, and their very life.  If you have a sales quota that you are a long way from meeting, you must find a way to give a lot of value.  If you have to meet the quota quickly, you have to give value quickly.  Not only do you have to give value, you also have to give more in value than you receive in compensation.  If a person is proud that they have bought what they consider to be a bargain, they will constantly come back for more.

When you do these things and moreover, become these things—someone who has quiet confidence, a positive attitude, is genuinely interested in others, and initially seeks to give value—you become relevant in the eyes and hearts of others.  They will begin to think of you when they, or others around them, have a need.