I spend a lot of time on the road with a number of sales teams and I have to tell you… the swagger factor out there in the marketplace is low. That’s right: SWAGGER. That quality of confidence that provides patience in the face of stupidity, no-blink nerve when looking into the eyes of challenge and the slight strut of knowing you’re the best.
As I’m talking to sales leaders in a variety of industries who are absolute best in class and working with top-shelf branded clients, they are still committing these party fouls when approaching new prospects:
- They run test-proof cycles for the most basic products and services.
- They waive engineering, design, drawing, setup and installation fees for first-time buyers on small orders.
- They fulfill tiny initial orders as a way to “prove” themselves.
- They agree to long “try, wait and see” cycles.
Now, at some point in your company’s history of performance, serving demanding clients and developing your reputation, your company became good enough to answer this question from a prospect: Are you qualified to do business with me?
“Qualified” means competent and market competitive — in pricing, features and benefits. Which further means that you should have the right to move past the first round (walking in the door). The issue is that prospects ask for samples, references, test-runs and little orders as a credentializing step in the process of doing business with you. After you have credentialized yourself, then you get to the real issues of a potential business relationship, which means relevance and value at a scale past credentialization.