"How do we change our mindset to authentically focus on the customer" - interview by John Smibert.
In previous discussions with Ian J Lowe he has put persuasive arguments that we salespeople and our organisations need to change our mindset to have the right intent - to be fully and authentically committed to the customer.
But that's tough. We have always been measured on achieving orders and revenue and rewarded for that - not on creating value for the customer. Our focus has always been on closing the sale. So I asked Ian how we can go about changing our mindset - develop the right intent in order to develop the right behaviour - to avoid Jekyll and Hyde behaviour in front of the customer.
Ian made some very interesting recommendation as to how we do that.
Read or view the full interview below. If you are in a position of leadership this interview may provide good insight into how we might want to transform the way we sell as an organisation. I recommend it for CEO's, COO's HR, Sales leaders, as well as professional salespeople.
Ian is the CEO of Eccoh.co (formally Go-Givers Australia). He is an expert in sales transformation and a specialist in why people sell.
John: I'm here with Ian Lowe again - welcome back, Ian!
Ian: Hi, John - good to be here!
John: Hey, last few times we've discussed how salespeople can change the world. We've discussed some of the sciences around selling, the neurosciences and so on, the fact that we've got three brains and so does our customer, and what does that mean and so on, and it really came down to we must have the right intent to sell. That's the bottom line that I'm getting to. True?
Ian: Yes, absolutely.
John: And you know what? I see that as a problem, because for us to change our underlying, if you like, our underlying culture, our intent-and not focus on our commissions and the revenue we're getting through that, but focus purely on the customer and driving value, and giving to the customer, which is what I think you'd been saying in the past. That's a massive mind change.
Ian: It is.
John: How do we make that change?
Ian: I think it's a big issue, and it's a big challenge for the sales profession. If we just use some examples for a moment, if we think about the highest performing people we see in say sports... If we think about Usain Bolt, if we think about Novak Djokovic, if we think about Lewis Hamilton... These are people that are operating at the highest levels in their chosen sport.
John: True. But aren't they just unique human beings?
Ian: They have a team of people behind them, right, they've had to work on their craft. They have a team of people, a team of coaches, a team of mentors, a team of scientists, people working on their diets and their food and their intakes, analysing everything so they can be the best that they can be. Often that doesn't happen in sales. We can often feel cast adrift on a sea, without any kind of direction, you know.
John: Yes. We talk about the product, we talk about how to ask questions, we talk about the sales process, but that really is not what selling is all about.
Ian: It's not enough.
John: Yes, it's important.
Ian: It's not enough today. As we said, we're in this VUCA era.
John: Okay. I need to change my mindset, I understand that, and I need to make sure I'm extremely focused on the customer, to the point where if a customer needs something other than what I can do to help them, I'm happy to go down that path, rather than try and manipulate them to my product.
Ian: Yes. "No" is okay, right?
John: "No" is great. If we want a long-term career in sales, and we want to be seen as a really professional value creator, "No" is great. How do we get my mindset to that point? You said mentors, you said coaches.
Ian: Yes, yes.
John: I'm an individual sales guy sitting there. Where do I go, and how do I go about that? I mean, I need to find a coach.
Ian: Absolutely, yes. There are a whole range of places you can go to get coaching, to get assessments, to understand yourself, do some analysis, and do some really deep thinking, really analyse what you're all about and where you're going and where you want to take your clients, where you can take your clients. There is so much we've got to think about in this whole process, and it's critical, because the world is changing. The world is changing, whether we change or not. So, we have a choice; we're either going to get left behind, or we're going to change.
John: Yes, and be ready to help the customer with what you're calling the VUCA...
Ian: The VUCA era, the VUCA world - yes. It's here to stay, and it's only going to get more volatile, more uncertain, more complex and more ambiguous.
John: Okay. So, the bottom line seems to be if I need to be a salesperson that can change the world - and you've given me the feeling that we can, we should, we should have that vision, at least do our small part and push the ripples out - then I really need to make sure I'm getting the mentorship and the coaching that will help me have the right intent so that my three brains are focused on helping the customer, and they see their three brains, see that I'm doing that, I need coaching and help to do that.
Ian: Absolutely, yes.
John: And too many people try and do it on their own.
Ian: They do.
John: And the other thing is that more often than not it's not the sales manager that can provide that coaching, or has the ability to provide that coaching.
Ian: One more thing on that, John, I think is the need for these to be congruent with how we live our lives.
Ian: These aren't things that we switch on in the sales interaction.
John: Very good point.
Ian: This is how we live our lives. So, we turn up at the sales meeting as we would turn up in any other meeting or any other interaction - there's no disconnect.
John: So, that comes down to being your authentic self, doesn't it?
Ian: Yes. And what does that mean?
John: Too many of us do live a lie, don't we? We try and be somebody that we're not, and therefore it's very hard to turn up all the time, and we've got to start putting the ~act as~...
Ian: Yes. It's like a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde sort of thing. We can be sort of the nice, calm Mr. Hyde, and then we get into the sales meeting, we flip the switch on "Now I've got to go into Dr. Jekyll sales mode." You know? [laughs] And there's all sorts of things wrong with that.
John: And that really comes down to the grassroots intent of why we're living. And if we're going to be a good salesperson, we've got to have the right intent right across our life, not just with customers, but if we get it across our life, it will come with customers, and the end result is going to be fantastic results. If you want to measure yourself on the sales you get and the revenue that comes, it will happen. But that shouldn't be the focus, right?
Ian: Dead right -well said, John!
John: Thank you very much, Ian - loved the discussion!
Ian: Thank you!
More short interviews with Ian Lowe:
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