We spend a lot of time sharing our thoughts about what it means to be truly Other-Centered® in the world of sales. But it’s always good to hear it from another source. I sat down with my former colleague and true disciple of the Other-Centered philosophy, Matt Caldwell. Matt was exposed to ASLAN early in his career and has carried the foundations through a selling journey that has included transactional, complex and even executive relationship sales.
Other-Centered Sales Training: The Foundation
ASLAN’s sales training program was the first one Matt ever went through in his sales career. Since then, he’s been through many other sales trainings as a rep, but has leaned on his foundation with ASLAN:
“They all have similarities, but I think ASLAN really stood out in one very particular way. A lot of sales trainings focus on finding the pain point and twisting the knife, which didn’t really feel natural to me. I always compared those future sales trainings back to ASLAN and what had set the foundation for my sales career: taking the journey with the customer, being Other-Centered, putting yourself in the shoes of the person that you’re selling to. And I found that through my career, that mindset has put me on the same side of the table as my customers.”
Approaching your customers with the mindset of helping them achieve their goals and navigate the decision-making process is what sets you apart as a sales rep (and wins you more opportunities to serve).
The Other-Centered philosophy focuses on building relationships and partnerships with customers that will follow you through your selling career, not just moving the needle to meet your quarterly revenue goals. It cultivates relationships that elevate you, the sales rep, and your organization, to trusted partner status in the eyes of your prospects and customers.
I myself once worked for a company that employed guerilla sales tactics to “trick” customers into purchasing our products and services. It was about attacking and winning, getting the client to sign on the dotted line. I was not fulfilled in my role, at all. I only lasted a year or so before I began my search for something that aligned with my preferred way of selling. Although I didn’t have the terminology at the time, I was looking for a company that trained their sales teams to be Other-Centered.
All Sales Are Not Created Equal
We also discussed Matt’s transition from transactional to more complex, relational and executive level sales.
With transactional sales, Matt was focused on removing barriers for the customer in order for them to make the best decision for their business needs. When your customer pretty much knows what they want, the sales process is about building rapport and trust, making sure you offer what they need, and making the sales process as seamless as possible.
Another key takeaway from Matt’s experience is to “know your place” within your customer’s organization and the value chain, given the products you’re selling. If you’re selling transactional products, you may not need to dive into high level organizational goals. What matters to a purchasing agent is different than what matters to an executive. Remember that, and be conscious of your time and your customer’s by “knowing your place,” while still adding value.
With the shift to complex selling and enterprise accounts, adding value may require more time from both sales rep and customer. Matt gave us some great examples from his own sales career. He and a team member would drive out to the potential customer’s location, conduct a free assessment of their current set-up, and then provide a report that evening. This was before the customer had committed in any way to Matt or his product. But providing his prospects with that free report, filled with quality information, was a very Other-Centered approach to engaging with customers. It cultivated a level of trust and respect that allowed Matt to advance (qualified) opportunities and serve his customers from the very start of the sales process, without wasting his, or their, time.
His goal was always to help qualified prospects and customers make the best decision for their business; educating prospects with a free assessment, without asking for anything in return, was a great Other-Centered way to do this.
Executive level Selling
Selling at an executive level is a whole different beast. The reality of this selling role is that there are many more factors outside of your influence or control as a sales rep.
At the end of the day, selling at an executive level is often about balance of trade and the relationship between two organizations. This trickles down into projects happening and products being purchased.
As a sales rep, you can do everything right, by the book, and in an Other-Centered way – but there are still things outside of your control. It helps to have visibility into an organization and the decision-makers. It helps to understand the political structure within your accounts.
You can only control yourself and your reactions to situations like this, that may not be completely in your control. This is where building trust as a sales rep and becoming a trusted partner within an organization can help you get the visibility you need into an organization’s plans and goals, in order to help them make the best purchasing decision.
Summing it Up
If your motive is pure, if you’re being truly Other-Centered, if you’re putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, selling will become much more rewarding and fruitful – for yourself, your team and your customers.
Drop the Rope® and be on your customer’s team. Find out their motivation and figure out how you can best serve them. It’s a much more effective and fulfilling way to sell.
This way of being and selling will help you within each step of the sales process, during the entire relationship with your customer, and throughout your selling career.