Becoming a Trusted Advisor

You don’t want to be a vendor. The word suggests that you offer something for sale, like a vending machine. You also don’t want to be a preferred vendor, even if that means your dream client gives you more of their business than someone else.

It might sound—and feel—better to be described as a supplier, another word that suggests the transactional relationship, one in which you supply something that your clients or prospects need. Adding the word “preferred” to the supplier is no more flattering than adding it to the word vendor.

You are not going to have any of your clients call you their “trusted advisor.” The way that you know you occupy this space is the way your client engages with you. When they describe you to other people, they might use the word “partner,” an indication that you are something more than a vendor or a supplier.

What Makes You a Vendor?

What makes one a vendor is a sales approach centered on selling a product, service, or solution, believing the most outstanding value you can create is to tell your company’s story and pitching the solution. You might call this approach transactional, or you might recognize it as an approach that doesn’t create much value for your clients, with an exception for the client is trying to buy what you sell.

If you are easy to do business with and what you sell works well for your client, you might move up a bit to the preferred vendor. There is no requirement that one sell using an approach that requires value creation for the client, but its absence and the lack of value makes you easy to beat in a contest against better salespeople with a modern approach.

What Makes You a Supplier?

A supplier is a level above the vendor. The difference may be that the supplier sells something more strategic, including something complex enough to be considered a solution. You will find purchasing agents and professional buyers tend to use words like vendor and supplier as a way to ensure that you recognize the nature of the relationship, or more accurately, the lack of a relationship.

Being a preferred supplier generally seems to be a term used when you perform where other people have struggled and failed, often due to the client’s constraints, and your success entitles you to more of their business. Someone can use this term to describe you even when you are something more, only because that’s the word their company uses to talk about the companies who help them with the things they need.

What Makes You a Trusted Advisor?

Even if your client is going to refer to you as their trusted advisor, there are signs that this is the space you occupy. You make it more likely you become something like a trusted advisor or strategic partner through your sales approach. An approach that centered on the relationship and insights that help your client discover something about themselves and their business, something that allows them to move their business forward.

The role of a consultative salesperson requires that the salesperson knows something the client doesn’t know or doesn’t know as well as the salesperson. They have some expertise, business acumen, and situational knowledge that allows them to fill in the gaps in the client’s knowledge and experience.

Older approaches to sales that focused on finding dissatisfaction still have some part of the truth about selling, but the truth is partial. Trying to talk someone into believing they have a problem worth solving isn’t as powerful as an approach that provides your prospective client with the context that helps them recognize the need to do change. It also provides the implications of doing nothing in the face of a world of constant, accelerating, disruptive change.

Signs You Are a Trusted Advisor

When your contacts call you before they make a decision or to get your view about a certain problem they are struggling with, you have evidence that you are something more than a vendor, supplier, or salesperson.

When your contacts call you to ask you for advice on things that are entirely outside of your domain, you have further proof that you are at least consultative, and likely a trusted advisor, proving you have both the intimacy and the proven discernment your client values.

The more your client initiates the contact with you, the more it means your relationship is valuable enough to your client that you receive a phone call, a call that your vendor competitor isn’t going to experience. Relationship selling still matters.

As you have new ideas and new initiatives to pursue with your clients, the fact that you only need to ask for a meeting to share your ideas is solid evidence that your relationship and the results you have helped them produce is enough to get your concept a mostly unfair hearing, one that is biased towards a yes, even if your timing is off. It’s always good to be in front of your clients when it comes to the next initiative.

What you want from your sales approach and your execution is an absolute right to the next opportunity, project, initiative, solution, or transformational change. You want to work on delivering strategic value, something I describe as Level Four Value in Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, giving you the upper hand in any contest.

The Very Best Intentions

There are times when an operations team can become overwhelmed by the volume or the difficulty of their work. They fall behind, and sometimes, they fail their clients or customers. To address these difficulties and shortcomings, some leader decides to acquire additional help by calling on their sales team to pitch in on the operational work, helping the operations team to catch up. They also ask—or allow—salespeople to do work that belongs to other roles, believing they are helping, when in fact, they are harming the organization. If you want a high-performing sales organization, you cannot take your sales team out of the field. Your intentions, as good as they may be, compromise your sales culture.

They Need Help. But What Kind?

The operations team has fallen behind in their work. They need more hands if they are going to stop falling behind and eventually catch up. The leaders decide to take the sales force out of the field and apply them as resources to ensure that the company doesn’t fail their clients and customers. The rationale that the operations team only requires the sales force’s help for a few weeks, and they believe they can live without the couple weeks of whatever it is salespeople do when they are selling. This is poor thinking and a poor decision, for several reasons.

Taking your sales force away from sales to do operational work means they are not creating new opportunities or working to capture the opportunities they have already created. The two weeks they spent in operations are lost to them forever; they literally cannot get the time back, and you have shortened their sales year. The opportunities they didn’t create may not be lost to them. Still, the timing of the acquisition of the opportunity is lost, as they have moved the sales cycle at least two weeks into the future, if you believe the salespeople will pick up right where they left off (more on this later). While the sales force is working in operations, they are not progressing their existing opportunities, pushing the deal into the future for both their client and their company.

As tempting as it may be to believe that pulling your sales team out of the field isn’t as harmful as failing the customer, you are creating a culture where the need for help continues in the future—and destroys your sales culture in the process.

What Are You Enabling

The fact that your operations team needs help is an indication that something is wrong. That something has nothing to do with the sales force, with the possible exception being the sales force promising clients delivery dates the operations team cannot meet. When an operations team needs help, it is a symptom that suggests that they are under-resourced, have poor processes that prevent their success, have inadequate talent, are being poorly led, or some combination of these things.

If the operations team is lacking the resources they need, backfilling those roles with salespeople doesn’t solve that problem. Instead, it shifts the problem from operations to sales. Operations has been made whole, but the organization has now given up selling as a priority, while leaving operations no better resourced than before, and no better prepared for the future. If the operations team doesn’t have processes in place to allow them to execute for their clients, temporarily providing them salespeople is a response that does nothing to improve their efficiencies. Permitting poor execution due to a lack of people or processes to go unaddressed only causes more trouble in the future.

Following the logic and the rallying cry that everyone needs to work as a team, should we then pull people in operations and accounting and Human Resources and marketing to make cold calls and sales calls when the sales force falls behind on their numbers, reducing the number of people available to run those areas of the business?

Whatever variety of problem that gives rise to the idea that is pulling salespeople out of a sales role to do operational work, those problems belong to the operation team’s leadership, as well as executive leadership. None of this is to say salespeople have no role to play, something we’ll look at in a few paragraphs.

What You Are Teaching Your Sales Force?

When you ask your salespeople to stop selling and to assume operational duties, you destroy their effectiveness and infect them with weak beliefs and future excuses. You also allow the rest of your organization to believe that your salespeople don’t really work and have much free time available for other tasks, a self-fulling prophecy that all but ensures the destruction of a sales culture.

One of the first things that occurs to a salesperson when their operations team fails their clients is that they should stop selling. Failing one client isn’t made better by failing a second client because the operations team is overwhelmed with work. Later, the failures of operations become an excuse for poor sales results. In deals with a longer sales cycle, the opportunities they don’t create now are deals they won’t have ninety days from now. The last thing you want to do if you are building and maintaining a high-performing sales force is create the idea that there are times they should not be selling.

Once a salesperson is asked to do operational work as a way to keep their major client, you have given them a form of tacit approval to do all kinds of tasks that have nothing to do with sales. The client needs something, and they ask the salesperson for help. Because you confused them about their role and the value they create for the client and their company, you find the salesperson following up on orders, pulling reports, retyping invoices, and becoming a glorified customer service representative (and lessening their role in the process).

By moving salespeople into operational roles, you make it more likely they do work that belongs to someone else in the organization, and you increase the likelihood they struggle to reach their goals. It’s challenging enough to build value creators who can create and win clients without confusing them about their role and the value you expect them to create for your clients.

What Should the Sales Force Do Instead?

In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I wrote about Accountability. If you are a salesperson, you own the outcomes you sell your client. You do not, however, own all the transactions necessary to deliver those outcomes. Just like the operations team isn’t responsible for creating and winning opportunities, the sales team isn’t responsible for doing the work of operations. They are, however, accountable to their clients, and they must be good team members to the rest of the business.

The sales force can—and must—work with their client to adjust delivery dates or to come up with some creative way to mitigate the execution problems. They can keep the client updated on the progress of improving things, and staying in close enough communication to prevent losing the client. They can also work with other clients to change delivery dates or go-live dates to give the operations team a little breathing room. If you want a culture of high-performing salespeople, you have to build that culture by helping them become value creators, consultative salespeople, and someone their clients recognize as a trusted advisor. That means they need to be engaged in execution from a strategic perspective, not from a transactional perspective.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. As a sales leader, you should help your operations team get the help they need to execute and protect your sales culture from being harmed by dragging salespeople into roles that belong to others.

The Limited Value of Loyalty

The Somewhat Limited Value of Client Lists

In the business-to-consumer world, a client list is made up of the people that business serves. It’s a list of actual people who have made a decision to buy from a business.

The business-to-business world is different. Our client lists are mostly made up of the names of companies we serve. We are proud of the company names on our list, so much so that we create PowerPoint slides and web pages to display their logos for all the world to see.

But the truth of the matter is, we don’t serve these companies. We serve a subset of the people who work for them. A client list of company names is the byproduct of the work we do with the people within that company.

The limited value of client lists is that it identifies an entity that is mostly made up of people who don’t know us, don’t care about us, and have no reason to be loyal to us.

If you want loyalty, you need a different list.

Where Loyalty Is Found

Loyalty is found where it is earned.

Loyalty is found in the list of individuals you serve within your client accounts. When you no longer have the loyalty of the individuals within a company, you no longer have the client—or that client is seriously at risk.

To earn that loyalty, you have to execute for your clients. You have to deliver the outcomes that you sold them when you acquired their business. If you don’t execute, the dissatisfaction that precedes churn sets in and weakens your loyalty.

Loyalty requires that you proactively take care of the individuals you do business with, as well as their teams. You have to bring them new ideas, new initiatives, and new value.

These are the things that prove your loyalty to the people you do business with within the list of client names you refer to as “our clients.” Those people are your real clients, and the list of their names is a better and more useful list than the big company names where they happen to work.

Your loyalty to the people you do business with is what earns you their loyalty.

Hiring Tips

Most managers don’t know how to build a successful onboarding program to make a newly hired salesperson’s journey easier.

Business owners and CEO’s of companies generating $3 to $50 million in annual revenue were recently asked to identify the most frustrating position to hire for within their company.

Their answer? Salespeople.

Most managers have paid their dues and worked their tails off, clawing their way up the corporate ladder.

However, most managers were not brought on to their company with a solid, structured, onboarding program.

Most managers don’t know how to build a successful onboarding program to make a newly hired salesperson’s journey easier.

Here are ten tips to successfully onboard new salespeople:

  1. Give sound bites

    Don’t put your new salespeople in the position of having to figure things out. Give a written, audio and video version, so they can get to work.

  2. Teach your products and services

    Do your new salespeople need to use them, and can they learn how you build them.

  3. Create structured conversations

    Supply a list of questions to assist them in creating conversations, when they are getting to know people and different departments.

  4. Test their learning

    Keep in mind that the goal is that your salespeople have a working knowledge they can draw on with faced with different scenarios.

  5. Understand your salesperson’s strengths

    Under pressure, we revert to our most natural ways of being. If you know your salesperson’s strengths, you can utilize them to teach new skills.

  6. Reward behaviors and actions

    It is too late to reward the results? Reward the behaviors that lead to the results, and you will get more results faster and more consistently.

  7. First, teach the ‘must have’s’

    Keep it simple. Your salesperson is eager to prove themselves to you and their coworkers, and to themselves. They want to validate that it was a good move for you to hire them; and that it was a good move for them to take the job.

  8. Set realistic expectations

    Give them a tangible and realistic goal “By the end of your first month you should be able to accurately input a customer request, demonstrate mastery executing each step, and clearly articulate your value proposition.” ”You should also have a list of 500 potential prospects in your territory.”

  9. Identify a ‘company culture mentor’

    Take responsibility and assign someone to teach them the culture of your company.

  10. Ask for their feedback

    If you are not constantly improving based on what you are learning, you are missing the boat.

Though the focus of this article is onboarding salespeople, the reality is that in today’s competitive landscape, companies need a professional onboarding strategy for every role in the organization.

Creating a structured onboarding program that orients a new sales hire so they can ramp up quickly and achieve success in the first 90-days gives you a solid HR solution that you will use forever.

It is always easier to edit an onboarding strategy than to start one from scratch. Once you know how to orient a new hire, and it is well documented, then you have more freedom to constantly be on the hunt for top-performing salespeople.

When word gets out that you have a well-structured orientation and onboarding program, the top-performers will be on the hunt for you.

The Cold Caller

What makes a call “cold” is that the person you are calling is not expecting your call. Because they are not expecting your call, you interrupt their day, even if they aren’t doing anything important when you call them. You can never know who you are calling, and even looking at Linkedin before dialing the phone doesn’t provide any information about their general disposition or their current mood.

Occasionally, you are going to run across what we might describe as “grouchy” people. The very nature of “grouchy” people is to be “grouchy.” What follows here are some ideas about how to deal with people who are rude to you when you call them to try to help them improve their results.

It’s Not About You

The first thing you need to know about grouchy people is that your phone call did not cause them to be irritable, angry, or upset. They were in a bad mood before you called them because that is the state they choose each day. Your call was no different than the car in front of them that wasn’t going fast enough, the long line they had wait in for coffee, or the fact that they had to park in the overflow parking lot because the main lot was full.

Don’t believe that your cold call to a rude or difficult person has anything to do with their response, no matter how rude or angry they are, and even if they hang up on you. Salespeople are responsible for helping people get better results, something that isn’t always easy to do. You will struggle with people even when they engage you to help them with the better outcomes they need.

Some Choices as to What to Do

The very first B2B cold call I made ended with my prospective client hanging up on me. He told me to call him back when I no longer needed a cold call script. When I asked for advice as to what to do, I was told to call him back and tell him I didn’t need the script and ask for an appointment. It’s hard to call someone back when they just hung up on you, but I made the call and got the appointment. I also learned not to sound scripted.

This was my very early initiation into the idea that as a salesperson, you are not inferior to your clients. You are not something less than they are, regardless of their title, age, experience, or any other factor. There is no need to be servile or excessively deferential. Nor is there any reason to be conflict-averse when you can exercise diplomacy instead.

When They Hang Up in Your Face

One choice you might make when someone hangs up on you is to move on, dialing the next number without giving it a second thought. Maybe you caught the person at a bad time. You have more prospective clients you need to call, and you can always try this excessively grouchy person another time, and if you’re lucky after they’ve had their coffee (even though that isn’t their problem).

You might also choose to call them back, exercising diplomacy, apologizing, and asking for the meeting you called for anyway. If the idea of calling again frightens you, you need to know two things. First, no one will drive to your office and hurt you for calling them back, so there is no real danger in calling again. Second, you don’t have your prospect’s business now, so there is nothing they can take away from you.

You can always call back, and say, “I am sorry I caught you at a bad time, and I want to apologize, I know you weren’t expecting my call. I hope your day goes better, and I’ll try you again some other time. I’ll send you an email so you can reach out to me should you need anything.” By making this call, you prove you are not afraid of your grouchy prospective client. You also provide the idea that you are going to call again later and that you truly want a meeting.

Could making this call upset your contact? Of course, it could. But so could the fact that they ran out of staples.

When They Hang Up II

When your contact hangs up on you before you can even tell them why you are on their phone, you may want to modify your diplomatic call, adding the reason for your call.

You might say, “I am sorry I caught you at a bad time, and I apologize. But I would like to tell you that the only reason for my call is that I believe I can help you get better results in this area, and if that might be helpful, I’d love to meet with you to share more.”

The likelihood of the person still being grouchy is still relatively high. They’re already grouchy. There is also the possibility that your contact hangs up in your face a second time. No matter the outcome, you have distinguished yourself as someone who might be worth working with because you aren’t afraid of them.

The Worst Client I Ever Had

You would be hard-pressed to find a client meaner than one of my first very large clients. She would yell at me, curse at me, call me names, question my intelligence, and criticize my team. I was doing good work for her, but nothing was enough to make her happy. She was perpetually difficult.

One day, I was visiting her in her office when she threw herself into her chair, exhausted and emotional. Then she shared with me that she was working twelve hours a day or more, and then going to stay at the hospital with her husband who had cancer and had undergone a number of surgeries. None of her anger was really directed at me, and I recognized that most of what puts people in a bad mood has little to do with me and everything to do with things that are invisible to me.

If you want to help people and make a difference, it is going to sometimes require you to deal with difficult people. They may prove to be difficult from the very first call.

The Digitalization of Sales

The sell sheet did nothing to improve the salespeople who used them when they called on their prospective clients. Like the catalogue, it may have improved sales, but it did nothing to make the salesperson more effective. It allowed for more orders.

The telephone, about which I am still romantic, didn’t do anything more to make salespeople better at their trade, their craft, or their art. It eliminated distance as an obstacle and it improved efficiency, reducing the time it took to reach their prospective clients.

The laptop and the PowerPoint deck didn’t improve any salesperson’s salesmanship, woman or man, and many would argue the effect has been detrimental on the whole (an idea with which I would vehemently disagree, as it is a useful tool in the right hands). Email doesn’t make a better salesperson, and automation is in some ways giving up on the hard work of making great salespeople.

If you believe this is true, as I do, then you recognize that communication mediumscan change without improving the mindset or skill sets of the salespeople—or any other group of individuals—who use them. As United States Airforce Colonel John Boyd, war fighter and strategist, said when he admonished the Pentagon and U.S. Congress, it’s “People, ideas, and technology. In that order.”

The transformation of sales is from transactional to super-consultative and super-relational, from self-oriented to other-oriented, from reactive to proactive, from selling product to generating strategic outcomes, from execution to accountability for those strategic outcomes, and from responding to opportunities to creating opportunities. To make this transformation, a salesperson needs business acumen and situational knowledge that would make them a 52% SME (or better). They need to know how to be super-consultative, which requires that they be able to offer the advice that their clients need to produce better results.

If the digital tools were capable of producing these outcomes, it would truly be the miracle that many believe it to be. But, alas, the tool kit, no matter the size, no matter the reach, and no matter the efficiency, doesn’t improve the effectiveness of the salesperson one iota.

The transformation is occurring, but it’s far more disruptive than digital.

Nothing Changes

There are no changes in sales that happen so abruptly that you can predict that they will occur in any specific year. Nothing happens in a single year either.

The major trends in sales take years to develop, and it is easy to believe that the trend line allows you to predict the future easily. But forecasting future events isn’t so simple, and those trend lines can switch direction over time. No one beats the world champion until one day the underdog knocks him (or her) out.

  • Inside sales is going to replace outside sales, they say.
  • Social selling is going to replace the telephone and other traditional prospecting methods.

What’s more interesting than making guesses about the future is looking at what doesn’t change, what persists over time.

  • Trust: In human relationships, trust rules. This has been the case for tens of thousands of years, and it will persist deep into the future. Putting forth the effort to develop character and engender trust is as important now as ever. The value of human relationships based on trust endures.
  • Resourcefulness: As soon as we humans solve some problem or overcome some challenge, we discover that we have created another problem, usually one more challenging than the one we just solved. Fortunately, resourcefulness is limitless, and the need for people to solve problems isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Fear: Fear has been around a lot longer than Homo sapiens. It lives deep inside of us, doing its very best to ensure our survival. People will always fear making mistakes and hurting themselves. Fear moves us away from pain, and it will still drive human behavior.
  • Leadership: Leaders take responsibility for moving groups of people towards a better future. The need for someone to step up and take accountability for delivering that future is unchanged. This is as true for families as it is for businesses and governments. The belief that things can and should be better persists.
  • Alchemy: The idea that lead can be turned into gold through some magical process has been with us since forever. It is still with us now. People have a strong desire to believe that they can have what they want without paying the price necessary to have it. Con artists, charlatans, and snake oil salesmen will always prey on people’s desire to believe in alchemy.

In the future, these things–and things like them–will persist, regardless of the trends.

There is no reason not to explore the trends. This year’s fashion might help you produce the results that you want. But the persistent truths persist for a reason. You are better to build your foundation on what has been true for millennia. Character and value beat the “new” new thing over time.

Worry about becoming the best version of yourself. Nothing else provides as sustainable competitive advantage or happiness.

When Calls Don’t Go Well…

That sales call didn’t go the way that you think it went. You felt challenged. You felt that you were being asked to defend your ideas. You felt that the difficulty of the questions and the intensity of the conversation indicated negativity about you and your solution. But you misinterpreted the interaction you just had with your dream client.

The challenging questions your dream client asked were not designed to make you defensive. They asked those questions so that you could help provide them with the rationale and the justification for making the changes that you are recommending. The people within their company, and even their superiors, are going to ask them why they are making the changes, why they are making them now, and why you are the one engaged in this process. This is especially true when what you’re recommending is a disruptive change, where it brings risk, and where it requires a greater investment.

You weren’t being asked to defend your ideas because your dream client believes they’re bad ideas. The reason they’re asking the questions is because they need the language and the logic to defend those ideas themselves. The reason you were sitting in front of them sharing your ideas and being asked these challenging questions is because your dream client really wants to buy the change that you are selling.

The intensity of the questions indicates the seriousness with which your dream client is taking their issue. The challenge for them is emotional. It’s stressful to deal with systemic challenges. Some of the intensity might be caused by the fact that your dream client has tried what some of your competitors have offered in the way of changes only to be disappointed. They’ve been told that they can have better, faster, and cheaper. That has never come true for them, so you cannot judge them for being skeptical. You would be skeptical if you were in their position.

After you sell long enough that you have had rich experiences with difficult and expensive change initiatives, you will know that the difficult, challenging, and intense questions are buying signals. They are not the signals of someone who is not interested in change. In fact the opposite is true; the people who are not interested in changing don’t say much at all.

That call went better than you think it did..

Building Internal Relationships…

You are more than comfortable selling to your prospective clients, or what I call dream clients. And when your prospective client wants something difficult to deliver, you are happy to sell your sales manager or leader on why you should do something different to win a complicated deal. But for too many in sales, you are completely oblivious when it comes to selling the team that delivers those results for your client. Let’s call that team “operations.”

I get it. You want what you want. You need your operation team’s help delivering for the client. This begins when you need information to put a solution together and continues on into delivery of of that solution. So you badger, bully, and press them for what you need. You go over them, under them, or around them, anything to ratchet up the pressure and force your operations people to do more, faster, and perfect. You argue your case to anyone who will listen.

But the one thing you don’t do is sell your operations team. And that is a fundamental mistake that only rookies make.

The selling we do inside our own organizations is every bit as important to producing results as the selling we do outside our organization. Here is where to start selling inside.

Lunch and learn: You would move Heaven and Earth for a lunch and learn with your dream client and their team. But you can produce an equally great effect by developing the relationships you need on your operations team. Take someone from operations (or a couple of someones) to lunch so that you can learn about their constraints. Go with the agenda of learning how you can help them with all of the things that make their job difficult, like unmanaged client expectations for example. Don’t ask for anything; just work on the relationship.

Engage them in the sales process early: If you want your operations team to own the account once you’ve won it, engage them in the process of selling that account as early as possible. When you’ve done your first discovery visit, share all of the details of that meeting with your team. As early as you can, get them in front our dream client so they can hear for themselves what “our” new prospective client is going to need. The sooner that prospect becomes “ours,” the more willingly your operations team will take responsibility and own the outcome. You’ll be surprised at all the things they can do to create value for your prospective client if they get to listen to them speak about what they want.

Be respectful of their role and their time. You sell. You don’t do operations. You can’t imagine their world unless you spend time learning what that world looks like. Your operations team is busy delivering for your company’s clients all day every day. They’re really busy, and they don’t have nearly as much freedom as you do in sales. That can make it difficult to give you what you need when you need it. You need to negotiate the commitments you need, being respectful of their role and their time.

Get them help when they need it. You’re the salesperson. So sell. If your operations team can’t deliver for you because they don’t have the time or resources, go and sell management on giving them what they need. You want to make friends for life? You want your operations team to move your requests to the front of the line? Then dig in and help them. Even if you can’t get your operations team what they want, when they discover that you are their advocate, watch how fast your relationship changes.

Show some appreciation. We started at lunch, and we’ll end there. Take some folks to lunch to say thank you for their support. Bring them breakfast. Send a personal thank you note. Send the director of operations of note to share with her the wonderful job her team did helping you win an account. Tell the stories of how valuable the team is to everyone who will listen and build them up. If you want to make serious deposits in the relationships you need to serve your clients, show appreciation.

All things being equal, relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still win. You know it is your job to make all things unequal when it comes to selling your dream client on you and your company. Now apply that same idea to the team that delivers those results to your clients once you win their business…

The Long Sale…

Some of your competitors will lie to win a deal. They will say whatever they believe their prospective client wants to hear, knowing it isn’t the truth. You may be frustrated knowing that they’re lying and winning.

Some businesses you compete against will act immoral, and some will take actions that are illegal, all to make a buck. Their success may get a lot of press, and it might look pretty in the papers right now.

Some of your competitors will speak poorly of you and your business to win an opportunity. You may be frustrated and angry to learn that a competitor is trying to make themselves look better by trying to make you look bad.

Some people will tell their prospective clients what they want to hear in order to ingratiate themselves to that person. The would rather have their business than tell them what they really need to hear.

None of these tactics are effective long term. In fact, over time these tactics undo those who use them. Someone may effectively lie to win a deal, but over time that lie will be exposed, and the person who lied will no longer be credible. People and companies that try to win by using tactics that are illegal or immoral get a different kind of press when these actions are exposed. Eventually, you are going to judged by who you are, not what your competitors say about you. And, eventually, your dream clients are going to need to know the truth about what they need to change and how much it is going to cost.

You can’t control the tactics that other people or companies use to pursue and win new business. The only thing that you can control is who you are going to be. If you decide to be something different and higher, you will be known for being those things, even if it takes time for this to be known.

Character is the long game. Who you are going to be has nothing to do with the decisions that other people make about who they are going to be. Your character is your business.

Legacy is the longest of long games. The difference that you are going to make is solely up to you, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that other people aren’t considering their legacy. Your legacy is your business…