When I started in “sales,” I didn’t want the word sales in my title. In 1993, I graduated from Architecture school and took a job as “Sales Engineer” for a custom returnable packaging company. Yes – I was responsible for selling, but I never really saw myself as a salesperson. I saw myself more as a “figure out a way to solve customer problems in a way that my company could make money” person. This became especially true as I grew in responsibility to become a business manager and owner. Here are three lessons I’d like to share:
1) Custom solutions are better than standard products or services.
When you’re selling custom solutions, you start with the client needs first, then create products and services that meet those immediate needs as well as lead the client to a better future. This is the basic tenant of business. In small organizations, this seems like common sense. As your company grows, you’ll be amazed at how many people lose sight of this in order to gain clout for their “department” or their “product feature.”
2) Build a selling/delivery team.
The selling team needs to have the authority and ability to carry out the custom solution.
In small organizations you wear many hats. Even so, you still need to involve the other stakeholders; an engineer, production leader and administrator for example. Otherwise, the custom solution literally becomes your solution that no one else supports. This means that even if you close a deal, it’s not likely that your company will meet customer expectations.
3) Be selective about which clients you choose to do business with.
This always blows people away. They say, “You mean we should turn down work?” Then I say, “Yep.” Again, when you’re running a smaller business, this can be instinctual. People need to “click” on both sides of the buyer/seller equation. Your team won’t be able to “wow” every potential client. If you choose the clients with whom your company’s culture and systems are a natural fit, you’re chances are much higher of keeping them around, making a good profit and earning referrals. If your culture and systems are in need of some healthy changes, just make sure the changes are something your team wants to tackle.
These three lessons are the heart and soul of Whale Hunting. There are a million details packed within these lessons that The Whale Hunters helps business leaders understand and share within their companies. To go beyond the basics, visit www.thewhalehunters.com.