“We eat what we kill.”
A couple years ago I was applying to join a business leads group and this was what the group’s president said to answer my question about their minimal annual revenue requirement.
His point was they only wanted members who were serious about their business. (No it had nothing to do with the Occupy Wall Street movement).
Point taken but the phrase reminded me of why the word “sales” evokes visions of those sleazy sales guys in used car lots asking “what’s it gonna take to get you to buy today?”.
When we make selling analogous to hunting, we put the seller and buyer in an adversarial relationship any chance for a more constructive relationship is doomed before we even pick up the phone.
It’s time to find a better metaphor and fortunately I have one to offer.
The Sales isn’t Closed Until I’ve Said Thank You 100 Times
Last week I met with Gordon Seufert, of Recycled Matters.
Gordon is a natural when it comes to sales: he’s a great storyteller, he loves his products, and he has the ability to see his products in terms of customer solutions (you see a refurbished industrial mat…I see a an oil catcher for your garage floor).
But what really caught my attention was what he said about closing a sale.
“As far as I’m concerned, the sale isn’t closed until I’ve said “thank you 100 times”
Power of “Thank You”
The phrase “the sale isn’t closed until I’ve said thank you 100 times” has affected my thinking in a powerful way.
1. It reminds me to be grateful. Period.
I’ve always been a compulsive “get things done” and no matter how much I’ve accomplished, I’m always looking at how much more I could have done.
It’s not bad to be ambitious but it’s all too easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of things to do and without gratitude I find myself feeling perpetually irritated, impatient, and unhappy.
Remembering to say “Thank you” is the magic ingredient that shifts everything.
2. It makes sales something I can enjoy
Because what if sales was something we did to create trust-based business relationships. What if sales was a way to be in service and make a positive difference?
A Better Way to Understand Sales
Remember what I said about my attitude around sales, like a lot of people in business, my tendency has always been to view sales as a kind of necessary evil.
It takes time and effort to build trust and we live in a time in which trust in the context of business is suffering.
Until human nature evolves, building relationships will continue to take time and require repeated interactions over time.
And what better way to build relationships than to make sure we find reasons to say “thank you” every time we interact with someone?
Applying 100 Thanks Yous in your Marketing and Sales
There are two things you can do to apply the selling from gratitude in your own business.
1. Create a Process to Keep in Touch Regularly Over Time
There are lots of ways you can keep in touch with your prospects and customers:
- Offer an ezine that you send out at least once a month.
- Start a Facebook group and publish useful news, tips, and articles to your friends
- Blog and encourage readers to subscribe via RSS feed
- Attend weekly and monthly professional development groups.
It doesn’t really matter how you keep in touch. It just matters that you DO keep in touch on a regular basis meaning at least once a month.
2. Ideas for how you can reach out to offer something valuable and to say Thank you
What I love about the 100 Thank Yous is the opportunities to have fun and express what makes your business unique. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- On your blog or website create a feature for “business of the month.” This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. You just want to recognize a business you’ve worked with. It can be a customer or client but it can also be a vendor or a colleague. What matters is you sincerely appreciate the business. It’s usually enough to include the business’ contact info including their website url and a few sentences about what makes them outstanding in your eyes.
- Send a card or letter every day to one business, practitioner, or organization to express your appreciation. Again this doesn’t need to be anything fancy. What matters most is that it is heart felt and sincere.
- Instead of a card, create a short video.
- Offer something free or at a deep discount to your long-time customers or subscribers. People have so many choices these days and it’s really an honor if you have clients and customers who have been with you for more than a couple years.
Again, you don’t need to do anything fancy or expensive to express thanks. Sincerity and heart-felt expression doesn’t require a budget, you just have to make the time to do it.
And there is a caveat as well. Lots of businesses claim that they say “thank you” and put their customers first. But if your “thank you” is simply the theme for a monthly promotion, you undermine any trust and goodwill you are attempting to create.
Remember sales is a natural by-product of this process. You don’t need to go into “hard sell” mode.
Often it won’t require 100 Thank yous for someone to buy something. Other times someone may never buy no matter how often you say thank you. But that doesn’t matter because it isn’t the main reason you’re saying “thank you”
You’re saying “thank you” because:
- It’s just the right thing to do.
- It reminds us that we’re in business to be of service in the world and to make a contribution.
- It also reminds us that without customers, we don’t have a business. Customers are the reason we have a business to begin with.