While the concept is simple, putting it in writing will be more of a challenge. This technique has evolved over my 40 years of B2B selling. It requires a great deal of nuance but, if you can master it, it might be the most powerful sales skill that you can develop.
This technique is based on the premise that, when you are perceived as someone who actually works for the company, vs. as a vendor who is trying to sell something to that company … well … there is no comparison. It’s apples to oranges. It works particularly well with larger accounts.
You will need to be highly diplomatic in this approach, subtlety adopt team language, and deploy assumptive messaging. Mind you, none of this is unprofessional or meant to deceive in any way. In fact, if what you are doing is not the right thing for that company, don’t even go there.
How do we blend in?
If you are going to act like you work there then the first question you have to ask yourself is pretty obvious …
“What do people who work at a company do everyday?”
I’m not talking about particular duties that are associated with a specific job title. I’m thinking about behaviors that are associated with being employed by an organization. Any organization. And, to clarify … you are not “acting” as in pretending or putting on a show. You are actually becoming a part of that company.
- You devote your energy toward making the company better.
- You are diligent in your duties.
- You promote dialogue and respect between all members of the company.
- You look for new opportunities for your company.
- If you see something that could be done differently or better, you bring it to the attention of the proper people.
- Your job is protect the company, it’s employees, and their customers.
You get the idea. Feel free to add to this list!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. This includes your dress and language. Engage in appropriate small talk. It’s not all business. Be likable. Use humor. Talk about things that affect the company outside of your services. Help the company to be more successful, where appropriate, in areas not related to your services.
How do you sell?
You don’t sell! You educate and discuss potential challenges and solutions. You raise and answer issues and questions. You provide the cons as well as the pros. You tell them things that they don’t want to hear if they are things that they need to hear.
Talk about you services in terms of “when” and “how” rather than “if”. Do what is best for the company and not for you. Create multiple touch points with multiple people.
You know that you have been accepted when … you have been elevated to the status of being a trusted advisor. You have demonstrated that, not only can you be trusted but, you can be trusted to advise on a larger range of company issues.
Trusted advisors do not bid on new business. Rather, they are brought in at the very beginning of any new project and they assume their role among company personnel and other trusted advisors as a part of the development team. Compare that to what a vendor is forced to endure. As previously stated … there is no comparison.
Now, I have been doing this for so long that it is reflex to me. I don’t even think about what am I doing so everything is natural. There are certain areas that you should address before getting started …
- Know your stuff! If your industry knowledge is not up to snuff, fix that!
- What will you do to make yourself memorable, remarkable, and unique?
Practice makes permanent. Start out small with rapport building. Ask good questions. Take your sales hat off and focus on the customer rather than yourself. Be an educator. Be a go-to resource. This isn’t rocket science. What would you do if you actually worked for this company? If you can answer that, the rest takes care of itself.