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Synopsis of "Selling Leadership" which is an extension of the consultative sales approach which incorporates leadership skills embedded into the fabric of the organization.
The question, then,is a simple one: How do you effectively communicate a value proposition and differentiate yourself and your company from the competition? The answer is just as simple: learn to live by a process that creates the customers’ desired outcome and establishes you as a person of credibility and influence. For at its core, effective selling is relationship driven. It’s not about features or specifications or application notes. It is about learning the desired outcome of the client, developing a viable solution, communicating the value you, your company and your product bring to the customer, and finally committing yourself to a vision into which the customer will buy.
These are the general steps that many a technical sales person has learned and used with a fair amount of success. It was intended to be more interactive, communicative and engaging than traditional hard-sell sales methods. Over the years however, we began to see that even that method was becoming too manipulative because sales persons were simply selling to the process, not through the relationship with the customer. We were selling the technology by catering to each of the personality types rather than understanding that all personality types had the same motivators and influencers, and that is solving their problems and them embracing the value to themselves and their organization that the solution represented.
We began using a variant of the consultative sales process that has been successful in making technical sales people sell at a higher rate, retain profitable repeat customers and avoid the poaching of competitive sales people. This process is called Selling Leadership and we are going to explore how, not only can it be used by technical sales people to be highly successful but the principals involved can make a dramatic difference in the overall performance of your company.
We are going to identify the seven steps involved in the Selling Leadership process. These steps are not too terribly different at first blush from traditional consultative sales processes, but you will see the context of the process change as we move forward. The steps are: Station, Situation, Diagnose and Develop, Credibility, Vision, Influence, Responsibility and Service.
Influence is neither power nor control but rather the ability to effect the actions and decisions made by others based on a strong interpersonal relationship and trust. This is not manipulative, you don’t need to strong arm anyone to do anything. Your relationship, communication, credibility and vision will compel your customer to buy into your solution and that is your influence.
As I mentioned earlier, Selling Leadership takes the traditional consultative selling process and augments it with relationship, team building (both internal and external, company and customer), as well as the concepts of individual and corporate integrity, the vision adhered to by the company, in addition to the “value” that the customer finds in the proposed solution. The skill set that is required to implement Selling Leadership takes some training as it would with traditional consultative selling.
Selling Leadership uses a combination of consultative selling skills in combination with advanced personal development skills. In order to give sales persons the basis of these skills, let’s have a short discussion about leadership development. According to John Maxwell, Leadership Expert, there are five levels of leadership that people can attain.
The 5 Levels are like a building, all the higher levels rest on the lower ones. Every leader must pass through every level to get to the next one. Level 2 builds on Level 1. You can’t be a Level 3 leader until you’ve mastered Level 2. As you climb the levels you gain greater influence over the people around you, people chose to follow you because of what you represent and the value that you add to them.
The ability of leaders to empower internal teams to produce at a highly effective level creates greater confidence, credibility, and increased influence. The leader takes responsibility for the outcome of the team. Leaders can give up anything except responsibility. Leaders never look for excuses or scapegoats; rather they work within the team and find solutions.
Good leaders on the Personal Development Level invest time, energy, money, and focus on growing others as leaders. They look at every person and try to gauge their potential to grow and lead. This practice of identifying and developing people compounds the positives of their organization, because it often is a catalyst for bringing out the best in the team. Developing one person for leadership and success lays the foundation for developing others for success.
You are selling leadership with your team, with your co-workers, with your peers, with your employees and in your company. You can be improving the lives of all of those around you because you chose to take responsibility for the people and events around you. You give credit to your team for the successes achieved. You communicate effectively and listen interactively. You influence others because you have credibility, integrity, and the heart of a servant.
All of us can learn the effective leadership lessons that we have applied to technical sales. Each of you can learn to improve your peers, your subordinates, your department, your company, and your customers by selling leadership. By creating an environment that is communicative, enabling, empowering, and trusting. By creating an atmosphere, where solutions are developed that are genuine and valuable to the individuals. For each of us, we can improve the world around us by Selling Leadership to everyone that we can positively affect.
There are universal truths in effective selling that are applicable and vital to the success and growth of every organization. The leadership principles that apply to effective salesmanship are the basis for effective leadership of individuals, groups, teams, and entire organizations. Sell Leadership in whatever you do, add value to whatever you do, develop people wherever you are.