“ We are architects, not sales people.”
Before Sales Concepts we didn’t have a sales approach. We really didn’t think we needed one. But after we started to grow I began to feel that we could do better. I went to the first class with my partner. This was before we sent any of our staff members. We spent 45 minutes in the parking lot afterwards just talking about how we didn’t realize how much we didn’t know. Back in the day, we’d get an RFP and we were very reactionary. We’d read through it, pull out all of our marketing materials, assemble everything into a nice little binder and then send it out. We rarely even talked to the prospect. Today we have a drawer full of marketing materials that we haven’t even touched. It is all communication and relationship driven now. In the Sandler world, the first rule of RFPs is “get a meeting.” You have to really engage your prospect in a conversation. You can’t do a good job for them unless you really understand what they’re trying to accomplish. Communication is the main principle of the Sandler system. You have to understand when, why and how people become emotional about their situation and how to help them resolve it. If something’s causing a lot of angst, we try to figure out what we can do to alleviate the problem. We’ve even gone so far as to recommend that a prospect go to somebody else. What we learned from them showed us we weren’t the best fit. That saved the prospect and ourselves a lot of time and frustration. We also came to realize that we didn’t have to be a passive player in the sales process. In a world where the customer is always right, you can get pushed into a corner pretty easily. And if you’re just doing what the customer asks you to do, you’re probably not providing the best service, either. In what truly was a sea change for us, we no longer respond to every RFP that comes across our desks. Now we only respond if we think we have a really good chance of winning — and even then, we won’t respond unless we can have direct communication with the people making the decisions. It’s that old adage, work smarter not harder.