Companies and individuals have done the cost cutting. Jobs have been eliminated. Dealerships have been closed. Costs have been slashed. All this has done is help people weather the economic slump. Getting out of the slump is a different story. The only way out is by selling something.
The old adage that nothing happens without a sale rings true today more than ever. In his endorsement of Ron Karr’s latest book, Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way, Larry Kellner, CEO of Continental Airlines, claims “Business Starts With the Sale”. Larry goes on to say “that knowing your customers’ needs is the single most important factor in building sales”. Continental knows this as it has outperformed most of its competition in the areas of customer satisfaction for several years. While it still struggles because of the deep recession, it separates itself from companies like GM and Chrysler who have been accused of making products that did not meet the needs and wants of its customers. It is the customer experience that determines whether or not someone will buy from you and come back again. The experience includes not only the products, but the conversations customers are having with their vendors.
For Chrysler and GM, the issue is not the dealers they are closing. They are unfortunately victims of past sins. The real question is what are the remaining dealers going to do to enhance the customer experience, have better conversations and close more sales. R&D is working on making better cars. Once production is ironed out, everyone’s attention is going to be focused squarely on the sales and marketing people. And they better deliver.
Ron Karr, author of Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way, claims that sales and marketing teams have to undergo an transformation from being self focused (closing the deal) to being customer focused (finding out the customer’s needs). With demand down and competition high, sales executives more than ever have to be at the top of their game to gain market share. Karr claims there are 7 traits they must exemplify on a daily basis.
- Visualization- need to know the outcome they are after to make sure actions are strong enough
- Positioning- talking about features and prices lead to commodity based decisions. Value is sold on outcomes.
- Building Alliances- One cannot do it all. Leads, referrals and growth comes from supporters, alliances and others who open doors.
- Asking Good Questions- Most questions being asked are commodity based and viewed as a waste of time by customers. There are questions guaranteed to get your customer’s time, attention and business.
- Creating Powerful Value Equations- Most deals are lost because customers simply believe there is not enough value in it for them. Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way delivers case studies on how companies including Kodak have improved their value proposition to successfully gain market share.
- Communicating Persuasively. Most business failures and successes happen not because of the product/service quality. They happen because of the ability or lack of ability to communicate the value offered.
- Accountability. Every CEO wants employees to be accountable to their organizations. Fact is, employees can only be accountable to themselves. If they are not accountable to their own word and promises, how can they be accountable to others.CEO’s will position their organizations for great success as the economy turns if they instill these traits in all their employees. While sales and marketing have to deliver, so does everyone else. Karr claims “you need to build high performing sales culture! You cannot win the war with just a few high performers”. He also claims this is not an option. Success will only go to the organizations that figure out how to sell effectively in a competitive marketplace. Dropping prices is not always the answer.