I was reading an interesting book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, about simplifying and organizing. It also talks a lot about clutter and ways to unclutter your home. Well, I confess that my home-office is still cluttered, but I’m working on it! As I was reading it, though, I thought about how the idea of “Uncluttering” relates to sales. Here are some things that came to mind:
- Unclutter your Contacts
- Unclutter your Products and Presentations.
Unclutter Your Contacts
First off, I’m not suggestion that you delete or ignore certain people in your contact list. What I AM suggesting is that you prioritize the people in your contact list who can be most helpful in the selling process. For example, let’s say that one of your biggest customers is ABC Widgets. The best salespeople have numerous contacts within their customer’s companies. In fact, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you only knew a few people at ABC. But, given that salespeople only have a certain amount of selling hours in the day, it is incumbent upon them to focus on those people who can make the difference in the sale. I suggest focusing most of your timer on people who are the “influencers” and the “decision-makers.” The “Influencers” are those at ABC Widgets who are evaluating salespeople, and their product offerings, to determine if they are indeed able to help ABC achieve their goals. These people are often, but not exclusively, junior to mid-level and their task is to filter through all the different companies and salespeople trying to sell their products. These people are critical in the success of your sales efforts for ABC. I’ve seen many salespeople self-sabotage their own efforts by treating these “influencers” in a demeaning or condescending manner. That is a huge mistake.
The “Decision-makers” are very likely heavily relying on the recommendations and evaluations of the “influencers.” It is important to also have a good relationship with the person at ABC Widgets who is actually making the decision to sign off on the purchase. This is very important because even if you and your company have been recommended to for the buy, things can change at the last minute. I’ve seen budgets cut at the end of the purchase evaluation process many times and, if you have a strong relationship with the decider, you can escape the chopping block in most cases.
There are many other people at ABC Widgets that you still need to meet with and learn from, though. There are those folks who are “Encyclopedias” …people who are like reference books in that they can provide valuable insights and information even if they are not directly involved with the buying process. You definitely want to keep meeting with them, but you want to prioritize the time appropriately and spend more time with the “influencers” and “decision-makers.” Think of this prioritization as uncluttering your contacts…you want to simplify and organize your precious time.
Unclutter Your Products and Presentations
A lot of salespeople, particularly those just starting their sales careers, create presentations that seem to have the look and feel of a multi-page restaurant menu. The sales equivalent of ‘appetizers, salads, entrees, specials, a la carte, and desserts’…something for everyone! They think that they have to present almost their entire product catalog in the hope that something shiny will attract their customers’ attention.
The reality is, though, that your customers mind will begin to wander with too much information presented to them. According to a 2015 Microsoft study, the average attention span of a person is about 8 seconds…about the same as a goldfish. So, it is important to simplify and organize your presentations into a few key points that you want to get across. I’ve written many times about the need for the salesperson to keep the customer focused on 3 things that they will remember after the meeting. Look at your draft presentation deck and think about it as if you were looking at a cluttered room. How would you get the room organized? You would most likely throw some things out and take the remaining items and put them away in a neat, simple manner. That is what you do with your presentation deck. Keep the most important points that you want the customer to retain and delete the fluff. You can also use the appendix to put any reference material, but I suggest keeping the actual presentation simple and organized.
Think about all the distractions your customer has during their day. When you are spending an hour with them to meet, take that time as the opportunity to focus and discuss those few key things that will help them achieve their goals. Try to unclutter their day as much as you can with an organized presentation and meeting.