Nothing has a greater impact on the outcome of an opportunity than the salesperson. A lost opportunity is won by another salesperson or to the status quo, both of which are ferocious and unrelenting. You must make a difference. You must be the difference.
You are the sharp end of the spear. Keep these ideas front of mind.
You are the primary source of value creation for your clients: Nothing has a greater impact on the outcome of an opportunity. It’s all you, every time. You have to create value, and you have to bring you’re A-game to every contest. You must acknowledge that you are the source of value, and you have to bring so much value that no one could dare consider hiring someone else.
Move from tactical to strategic: If the greatest value you create is to be a walking, talking brochure, you are not a value creator. The value you create has to be around an idea that is important and compelling to your client. Focus on the strategic. How do you help your client improve their revenue, increase their profits, or reduce their costs? How do you help them to compete in their space? Drop the features and benefits and go get some dirt on you playing with the big boys.
Business acumen is the new sales acumen: I am going to relentlessly bang away on this idea until Hell freezes over. Creating value for your clients and your company means understanding the great game of business. You have to think, look, walk, talk, and act like a businessperson. Period. Exclamation point! Your client isn’t hiring a salesperson; they are hiring a business partner. Get the business acumen of a great general manager.
Political acumen, too! You are going to have to build consensus within your dream client’s company, and you are going to have to navigate their messy, internal politics. And, you also are going to have to navigate your own company’s politics, too. Make allies. Build consensus. Give favors. Treat everyone like they are important, and gain access and information. Play the game.
Be a subject matter expert: You must know how to apply all of your company’s capabilities to your dream client’s business challenges. You have to be a subject matter expert in your business to be the go-to source of advice and information for your clients. If you sell widgets, you have to be the world’s foremost authority on the application of widgets to your client’s business challenges. Combine this with your business acumen and you are getting somewhere fast.
Be proactive! Bring ideas before they are needed. Get in front of your client’s opportunities. Help them see around corners by bringing them ideas that they can use. Keep them from making mistakes, and find a way to help them compete. Don’t wait by the phone for calls; go out and make mischief by helping your client move their company forward.