We have all been in sales since we started posturing for later bed times or an extra cookie after dinner.
Regardless of what you are "accountable for" in your business, we can all be 24/7 promoters for our organizations, our boards and our philanthropic affiliations.
I recently gave a speech to a group of national sales people for a Fortune 500 company. I talked about the importance of telling, not selling.
Telling builds relationships. It brings the product or service to life by illustrating a story or case study. It doesn't force connectivity. It feels authentic, long-lasting vs. self-serving, like the feeling a traditional sales experience may bring.
Telling authenticates past and future actions. It creates credibility.
I believe valuable moments are created by telling vs. selling. Here are a couple of tactical "to do's" as you work to bring value:
Prep: Why was John Smoltz in high demand as a broadcaster? One reason is certainly because of the way he handles himself on and off the field.
I would argue the other is because over the years we have worked to put John in the booth when the timing and the situation was right, in order for John and the market to determine if one day this could be an option for him.
The choices we had and the respect he was shown as we expressed interest in broadcasting wasn't an accident.
Another example: I have walked hundreds of practice rounds with PGA Tour players, and consistently watch them drop multiple balls in the fairway to check distances. They putt to and from all areas of each green --- all in preparation for competition. Prep for each situation you might encounter so as to take advantage of your opportunities to win.
Inquire and then listen: Asking questions can help you position the opportunity. It helps you to gather information. Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics, constantly asks his players, "Do you need anything from me?" I watch golf equipment representatives stand on the range Monday through Wednesday of tournament week as players try their clubs. The rep drills them with questions as players try the clubs. "Too firm? Too much loft?"
They gather information to build the very best club for the player. Ask your employees, your clients, your boss, your customers questions so you can gather data and put yourself in the best position to deliver the best product. If they win, you should win. After you ask questions --- listen. Just listen.
Listen authentically so you can better position the way you bring them value.
Don't talk too much or too loud: The analogy here is the rookie in the clubhouse that comes in and forgets he's the rookie. Trust me, the veterans will remind him. The best sales people ask a question --- short and sweet --- and then simply listen and react to their answer. They may know a lot of the answers, but not all of them --- and they're eager to learn so as to provide the best and most fitting solutions.
Stories work: You can tell people what you are going to do for them, or simply tell them what you have already done for others. Do the latter first, then the other is more real. When you tell, you sell. When we show a player how we will manage their career, it is powerful. But when we show them how and what we have done for 200-plus clients similar to them, it resonates.
Most important, wrap these tactics with integrity. It should be central to your message. Integrity is the quality most needed to succeed personally and professionally.
The good news is that you have an opportunity to be the player that creates valuable moments. Work so hard and so smart that you are faced with abundant moments and are prepared to capitalize on each and every one of them.