Today is the Chicago Cubs home opener at Wrigley field. Now, I have to confess that I am not much of a baseball fan but I do love my neighborhood Cubbies and look forward to a summer afternoon watching the team inside ‘the friendly confines’. So what does all this have to do with sales and customer relationships?
Years ago, I watched Sammy Sosa when he was playing for the Cubs. Sorry to say it was a big disappointment. Whenever I was in the ball park, he struck out. Where were all the storied home runs that were making all the headlines? And so I learned one of the lessons of baseball: if you are swinging for the fences, either you will hit it big, or you strike out.
Those of us who work with customers should remember this as a cautionary tale.
The role of the sales force is to CREATE value for customers, not just communicate potential value of the product or service being sold.
At the low-end of the spectrum, “product selling’, the sales force should be working to take cost out of the buying process for customers. At the top end of the spectrum, as a “trusted adviser’, the sales team is creating exceptional value through a consultative solution selling approach.
Now back to baseball. Richard Roeper, looking ahead to the 2010 baseball season, wrote recently in the Chicago Sun-Times, “there’s an increased emphasis on defense, speed, fundamentals and smart baseball, as opposed to just relying on behemoths to hit three-run homers…”
You can add a lot of value in baseball by being able to go out week after week and hit base hits, and executing on the fundamentals.
In sales, you can add a lot of value by listening to your customers and prospects, by doing the little things that add value, build relationships and doing it repeatedly day after day.
In either case, you may not get a lot of glory, or a lot of headlines but at the end of day, you will add more value by executing on the fundamentals day after day. It is a long season after all. Will you be able to execute after the All-Star break as well as you did before?
Customer relationships are built one conversation at a time. Loyalty is built when trust is rewarded by good service consistently executed. Sales do not have to come from big audacious efforts to hit a home run, but come more often from consistently hitting base hits.