1. Customers only care about you if you care about them
It is amazing how many sales training programs and managers teach an adversarial approach to customers. This rarely works and it makes selling a chore for both the customer as well as the sales representative. More and more customers are seeking self-serve mechanisms to avoid the selling experience altogether. Don't be sales "road kill". Be concerned about your customers, their industry, the trends in their business and you will be in a much better position to add value.
2. Have a purpose for every interaction
Customers do not have time to chew the fat with you. They are busy and if you are successful, so are you. The key to creating an effective purpose is "EMPATHY". To make your purpose compelling to the customer, you will need to express it in terms that are tied to something they would like to achieve. To do this effectively, you will have to see the world from the customer's point of view without necessarily having the luxury of talking to them. So, how do you do that? Learning more about the customer's industry, their potential pain points or opportunities for them in the marketplace by conducting research can help you to create an engaging purpose. This doesn't mean that you say, "Bob I'd like to talk to you about your pain points." This sounds dumb doesn't it? You will be much more compelling if you can state your purpose with some hint at how they could save time, money or improve revenue, productivity, creativity by spending time with you.
3. Be relevant or be gone
Many sales people we work with have one goal when selling to businesses; to get to that top executive. They learn gate keeping techniques to get an appointment but do not have a clue as to how to be relevant at that level. The result? A kick downstairs is the best case scenario, the worst case scenario is you get a few minutes into your meeting and the executive excuses himself for a phone call to never return. Sales people think that the best case scenario is a win! Hey I got kicked downstairs by the CEO. That is a great reference! The problem with that thinking is that you have blown a great opportunity to partner with this company at a strategic level. If you have that type of product or service, be prepared with relevant strategic conversation at the C level if you are going to go there. If you lack the confidence, knowledge or skills to conduct this type of discussion, then bring someone in your organization who can. It will be a great learning opportunity!
The same point can be made at any level of the organization. If you are speaking with a technical user or a financial buyer, you must be relevant at that level. There is nothing more frustrating than listening to a sales person that can not tailor information to whom they are speaking.