How often do people rest on their laurels? It is not unusual to hire people based on their expertise and experience. In fact, I know several companies that hire only tenured sales folks and trust that their selling skills will contribute to growth in market share and increased product usage. However, sometimes what is missing is that push to continue to sharpen the saw. If the company does not provide reinforcement to constantly hone those skills, then it is up to the individual sales person to make sure they continue to develop and grow.
To know where to apply that extra effort to develop, it helps to have some way to measure your effectiveness. At Delta Point, we often refer to KMR—Knowledge, Messaging, and Relationships as the keys to selling excellence. When you analyze your interactions with your customer with the purpose of trying to gauge how effective you are, undoubtedly you will see it is one of these interdependent and interrelated factors that can be improved if you are not at the level you hope to be.
Knowledge is the foundation. Being expert about your product offerings is the cost of entry. You also need to expand your knowledge base to include your industry, the competition and your customer’s industry—and to focus on your customer. How well do you know your customer’s challenges, passions, likes, dislikes, etc.? The more you can learn about your customer, the more you can tailor your conversation to things that are of interest and concern to that individual.
The term Messaging sometimes tends to confuse sales people. For example, corporate marketing departments may provide direction, such as “This is the message that resonates best so use these words when talking to your customers.” Information such as this is usually given based on market research—so it makes sense to follow their advice. But treat it as that—advice. You know your customers. You can use the phrases recommended by marketing couched in language that you know your customer will respond to. Messaging is how you say what you say. It is the words that you choose that determine if your customer responds positively or negatively to what you say. This is different than the marketing message that is printed on a sales aid.
Your Relationship with your customer perhaps is the most under evaluated element. Your spouse and a sales person can say exactly the same thing—but you react differently due to the relationship you have with that person. If you build a relationship of trust, built on integrity, then your words carry more weight than if you have a casual relationship. However, most sales people tend to focus more on selling skills when evaluating where to improve and not on their relationship with their customers. If the relationship is strong, then the words that you convey have more weight.
KMR represents the trifecta of sales excellence. As you develop your selling expertise, use these elements to help you analyze each of your customer interactions. Once you get in this habit, you’ll be able to identify where to focus your effort to improve. And then you can further your advancement toward selling excellence.