There are three secrets to selling that can immediately affect your performance if you embrace them, study them, and apply them. The secrets to selling are:
- Understand the political environment
- Be human and explore emotions
- Learn the personal agendas of the client
These are important individually, but if you can weave them together during your sales campaign, you will succeed on an unprecedented level.
Understanding Politics in Sales
As much as 70% of sales success is based on navigating and influencing your client’s political environment. This is a statement, which at times, causes a reaction of disbelief. Former President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said it well, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet that it was planned that way.”
The outcomes in a complex sales environment are exactly the same. When selling, you must master the subtle nuances of aligning with the right people and influencing them to take action. You cannot do this unless you understand the elements of politics, emotion, and personal agendas.
Buying Decisions Based On Emotion
We either outsell or are outsold by our competition. The truth is, it is not WHAT you sell, it is HOW you sell it. The vast majority of sales organizations are trained and focused on the wrong things.
Understanding your product or solution set is important, but over-investing in these areas is a critical mistake. More product training is not the solution. Developing the skills that allow you to become an “inner circle” member within your clients is the solution.
Studies prove that people buy emotionally and justify their decisions logically. You need to articulate your product or service in terms of business outcomes. You also need to get your client assured, disturbed, or excited about what these outcomes will do for or to them. If you do not generate intentional emotion, you will not sell anything. You need to use emotion to gain their support, politically.
Personal Agendas That Drive Executives
Everybody has them. Playing political chess starts with understanding those personal agendas. Personal agendas are VERY different from business KPIs. Achieving business objectives may help enable a client’s personal agenda, but they do not replace an agenda. If you understand that the agenda is driving the client and that you can help them achieve it with your solution, you will be able to immediately affect your performance.
Here are some examples of personal agendas:
- Job security
- Success milestones
- Leaving a legacy
- Bonus goals
- Career advancement
- Respect from boss or peers
- Networking with influential people
- Making a mark as a newly appointed leader
There are two questions that every executive is asking themselves when they meet you. First, “I wonder if they can help me?” If the answer is yes, the second question is “I wonder if I can USE them?” If the answer is no, you will be perceived as someone that cannot really play political chess at the level that they need. You will not become part of their inner circle. Executives and higher level contacts are not interested in your products and services. Their only interest is what these things can do for them in terms of business outcomes.
Prove Your Value to Close the Deal
These three secrets will enable you to uncover your client’s personal agendas and align your value proposition to them. You need to show them how you can help them achieve what is most important to them. You must also generate emotion around your idea. Intentionally trigger the assure, disturb, or excite emotions around the business outcomes you can create.
The last and most important part of the equation is to successfully get a YES to your client’s internal questions. YES, you can help them. YES, you are of use to them. If you pass these tests, you become part of their circle and have gained a political ally in your sales pursuit.
The more you focus on these three areas, the better you play the game. The better you play the game, the more successful you become. Politics, emotion, and personal agendas are the three secrets of master chess players. Learn to apply these secrets and you will be counted among them.
Personal Challenge: List the people making the decision in a current opportunity. Think about what may be personally driving them and think about their personal agenda. Revise any communication to reflect how you can help them accomplish their agenda by supporting it in your proposal.