The Alphabet Article Series – The ABCs of Solving Sales Problems – The 3 “I’s”

American writer Edmund Wilson is quoted as saying, “Real genius of moral insight is a motor that will start any engine”. I would go on to say that moral insight is something that can continue to fuel your organization, especially when it comes to your sales team and their ability to not only produce but to be able to properly pivot real-time to adjust to the actual needs of your clients.

Let’s dig right into the 3 I’s – Insight, Initiative, Imagination

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Insight. I would like to propose you consider this “I” with two sets of lenses. The first lens should focus on the insight your team can gain into your client and prospect populations. This is a “stop and smell the roses” kind of approach that requires you to actively listen to them. A key factor in your sales process should be for each and every member of your sales team to be diligent listeners. They should be thinking about what the client is saying, and maybe what they aren’t saying, and how what you do can legitimately be helpful to them where they are today. This kind of listening isn’t easy, but it will be fruitful for you for gleaning the kinds of insights into your prospects you need to craft solutions that are meaningful. What’s more, you have to use that insight. Not just brush past it, or reshape it to fit your highest margin offering. You have to take the insight you gain and place it at the center of everything you propose doing for the client.

The second lens should be seen as a window into your company, for your clients and prospects. While it’s important for you to gain insight, and that takes precedence, it’s also important that you share insight. Share insight into your organization, into your philosophies, into your product or service offerings, and into your team. By doing so, you will not only continually demonstrate your value proposition to the marketplace, but you will also be sharing a certain level of transparency about both what you do and who you are that current clients and prospects will appreciate. And it will enhance the kinds of dialogues your sales team can have with them because they will have some idea, up-front, where you are coming from.

Initiative. This “I” should be considered in a few ways as well. First and foremost, you have to apply this to your sales team and be able to quantify it for them. I know this “I” has some intangible characteristics like attitude, willingness to go above and beyond, and the like, but you get the luxury of defining it for your company and sharing it with your team. I would encourage you to think about what “extra steps” would be meaningful to your culture. And how can you not only praise these things in public, but how can you measure things like consistency, effort and impact. The sky is the limit and YOU make the rules.

I would also encourage you to think of this in terms of how and when it impacts your clients and your prospects. In navigating that delicate relationship, based on the profile of your target population you need to think of things like’ “how much is enough?” and more importantly, “how much is too much?”. This includes steps in your sales process like follow-up, drip campaigns, and all other strategies you use to engage your target. Whatever you decide, it should reflect your culture and be based on the first “I”, insight.

Imagination. Now you get to have some fun. And, more importantly, so does your team. It’s important to note here, though, your team has to be totally bought-in (remember the 3 “B’s”?) and feel secure in sharing their ideas, no matter how far-fetched they might seem. Obviously, not all ideas will be plausible, or even good. BUT, this kind of nourishing environment will promote ideas, some of which will enhance your team, your servicing of clients, and your approach to wooing new prospects.

As a business owner or sales leader, this also has to be something you are willing to do yourself. As you might imagine, there is a certain amount of vulnerability in being imaginative. People have to be willing to go out on a limb. So you need to lead by example and be comfortable not only having an idea or two not being well received, but comfortable being laughed at and laughing with others. You’d actually be surprised at the amount of comaraderie that can be built here if this is given the right amount of space and effort in your culture.

Lastly, I am going to suggest something even more daring. Ask your clients to participate. Yes, your clients. Ask them to tell you about any and all wishes they would have – because you know what? They’ll tell you. Obviously share with them the “why” behind all of this – it’s in the effort of continual improvement, in service to them and to future clients. And let them know that it’s a part of your process, a light-hearted but meaningful way for you to improve your culture, your service offering and your team. As a side note here, this can be tied directly to insight, sharing some of your more vulnerable side with your clients. It will build rapport with them too.

On last thought for this week, going back to the quote from Mr. Wilson above. It’s key to keep the moral aspect in all that you do. I could have easily chosen integrity as one of our “I’s” to consider, but I’ve alluded to it in previous articles using words like authenticity and honor. The reality is that as you balance quantifying and qualifying your sales process, as you nurture it as a part of your company culture, and as it grows and matures, nothing will serve you better than to have a solid moral compass in all you do, the tough work and the fun stuff, should all be morally grounded.

Put people first, use the 3 “I’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat, should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team.

To raising all ships!

P.S. Be sure to join us next week when we talk about the 3 J’s – Jargon, Judgement, Justify