I want to wake up each morning and transform the lives and businesses of who we serve through servant selling.
What do I mean by that? Servant Selling is the practice of placing the best interest of the customer above our own best interest. The purchase on that practice is we must confidently believe that what we offer may not be for them, and that’s okay.
Scared? I know I am.
I am scared because I know that I am quick to want to be liked by everybody, because I know that servant selling means that I am actively looking for ways to say that we would not be a good fit, that I would not be the “fastest, best, or cheapest” and to settle into the uncomfortable reality of teasing out objections.
Servant Selling requires “meekness,” i.e. a powerfully confident humility. This means that we have to be detached from outcome in every interaction, leaving the outcome to a higher power. That is so much easier said than done. That s because we want to take glory, credit or fame for ourselves. That means we accept any accolades as a free gift, and we return with a gift of our own, recognizing the role of the giver in giving the gift. It’s to not be attached to the feeling of being needed or wanted.
Part of this means that defining a servant-sales process is essential. This sales process is getting the focus off ourselves, and instead putting the focus on our customers. This does not mean we cannot use a sales technique or two, for example, “would you be willing to share in big, round numbers ____insert sensitive information__” That’s totally fine. What it means is that we need to be clear about what process we are walking our customers through.
- Currently: what are they currently doing, related to our product
- Like: what do they like or dislike about what they are currently doing
- Obstacles: what obstacles are standing in their way of making a different decision or making a change.
- Sign off: Who else needs to sign off on the decision.
- Explain: Explain back a summary of what they want to change and what the future looks like.
Example: If I want to serve a customer who currently uses a different brand of roofing, I would first discuss with them what they are doing, ask them what they like or dislike about it, ask them what obstacles are standing in their way for making different decisions (maybe they are tied in deep), and ask who else is involved with the decision (maybe him and the other owners), the finally explain back what we talked about.
Okay, that’s a little obtuse. So, how do we lead that? Well, first and foremost we don’t rush them. We communicate and we offer along various communication channels (email, phone calls, mailing, etc.), we share conversations and ask to hear their stories? If someone asks us, “do you have a story?” we can share. But the biggest thing is that we come with open ears.
Servant Selling takes money as the logical outcome of a much more important currency: trust. Each interaction, every marketing piece, every contact is simply meant to inspire trust. Note: using the word trust is not always the most useful, (e.g. Honest Al’s Used Cars is likely not all that honest.) Instead, we communicate what actions we will take.
There is a nice acronym for how we communicate this, “no ideas but in things.” NIBIT. That means, instead of saying “you can trust us,” we say, “we promise to call you back.” “we want you to stock only as much as you need.” “we want to honor the smaller orders.”
I have a hunch. There are many servant salespeople at all sorts of organizations. However, I don’t believe that one of those organizations has said, from the top to the bottom, we are going to be a “servant sales” organization.
That’s the line in the sand I am drawing. I say this as someone who in many ways feels his selling career is only just beginning and I have now another 30+ working years to embody and coach servant selling to my team.