An old friend said yesterday that selling is all about understanding self-interest, yours and theirs (the buyers). With such a simple equation, it would seem everyone would be successful in sales, which certainly isn’t the case. I think there are two important dynamics that sales professional must navigate, understanding and pressure.
Understanding our own interest should be simple, but frequently there are competing interests within our own organization. There is pressure to close the deal this month vs. waiting until the customer is ready. There is pressure to sell specific solutions to meet product line objectives within our company. There is pressure to maintain healthy margins in the deals.
The customer has their own pressures. There are pressures to consolidate suppliers to create synergies and save money. There are pressures to achieve specific targeted returns on investments. There are pressures to address new regulations. There is pressure to balance the short-term and long-term expectations of the business.
Maybe understanding self-interest is the critical element, but success in selling requires the ability to understand the dynamics of self interest in an environment with constantly changing pressures. These pressures influence our priorities relative to our self-interest and influence the customer’s priorities relative to their self-interest.
As Sales Leaders, it is our goal to keep our sales teams motivated as they navigate these changing pressures within our organization and within the customer’s organization. The subject of motivation was the topic for our April 20th, 2012 Sales Management Association Meeting of the Atlanta Chapter. While we explored motivation through compensation, motivation through recognition, motivation through coaching and motivation for the millennial generation, we did not specifically discuss motivating through internal pressures and customer pressures.
However, this really is the role that that the first line sales manager plays. I refer to it as “Action Coaching.” Coaching your sales teams through the daily actions that are required because of constantly changing pressures that influence our understanding of our own self-interest and the self-interest of the customer. This is where the front line sales managers add tremendous value in helping guide their sales teams through these pressures from within and without. All of this while maintaining a focus on winning the business with a balanced view of self-interest, ours and theirs. I guess my old friend had a point after all.