We are now experiencing a ‘new economy’ that requires new intentions if businesses are to grow and prosper.  Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of business is to make a customer.” Over the past few decades, businesses lost sight of, or never had this intention. Instead, they focused on making sales…new sales, new subscribers that generated immediate revenue and started a cycle that required more new sales.

Sales intentions crashed the economy. When the banks and financial institutions that should be our most conservative, long-term thinking, service oriented companies were seduced into focusing on making sales and not on making customers, the economy was doomed.  Our economy is in shambles today because even our financial institutions started thinking “sales first” and “customer second” or not at all.

When financial institutions and the mortgage industry made it easy to buy a home even if it wasn’t best for the person applying for a loan, they were making sales, not customers. They weren’t interested in the long-term effect on their business, the person they were selling or the future relationship with that person.  Banks began to promote themselves as creative and innovative which is probably not the best culture for a financial institution.

I have been asking executives, sales managers and salespeople for more than 18 years, “What do you think of salespeople when you are a consumer?”  The answer is almost unanimous. They all agree that salespeople only care about selling them something, and after they sell them, they only care about the next sale. Even though they think salespeople only want to sell them something, they think they are different.  They think they care about the people they are trying to sell. When we look more deeply at their intentions they admit they go to work every day to sell somebody their product and after they make a sale they are looking for the next sale.

So consumers aren’t wrong about salespeople. Salespeople have become so inwardly focused on how to sell, that they’ve forgotten they have to serve others if they really want to increase sales!

After attending the seminar, “If You Want To Increase Sales…Stop Selling!”, an attendee was heard to say, “Today, businesses are more interested in tricking people into buying something, rather than helping, serving or doing what’s best for people.” As consumers, most of us have experienced this and know inherently it is the wrong way to do business or sell. Yet most businesses and salespeople’s intentions today are to make sales, not customers.

How to make sales is taught by traditional sales trainers and supported by sales management and business executives. It’s driven by focusing on revenue today without regard to revenue for tomorrow or business growth. This thinking has ultimately sabotaged the relationship with consumers that can generate more sales. This thinking has created our business environment and is witnessed and experienced by most of us.  As consumers, most of us have experienced the effects of this thinking as it results in salespeople who don’t listen, only want to sell us and are more focused on their presentation than on us.

Let’s define traditional sales training as the skills, attitudes and actions taught to salespeople with the intention to make a sale. Traditional selling focuses on the process and buying experience. It teaches salespeople what to say to make a sale. It is scripted presentations that become a monologue, talking at people hoping they will get worn down, surrender and buy!

Traditional sales training courses and seminars teach critical path that focuses on the process of selling and not the person being sold.  After critical path, traditional sales trainers and manager’s began teaching relationship selling in their training sessions. Relationship selling teaches salespeople to focus more on the needs and wants of the person being sold to build a relationship but the intention is still to make a sale. None of this training is really about creating a relationships, it’s more critical path with the emphasis on the wants and needs of the person being sold but with the intention to sell.

Customer focused selling and real relationships can’t be experienced when the salespersons’ intention is to sell.

What happens when a salesperson changes their intentions from selling to serving?  They begin to overcome consumer’s preconceived beliefs about salespeople, separate themselves from their competition and begin to heal the relationship with consumers. This happens because when people communicate, most of their communication is non-verbal and originates from their intentions. People feel what you feel and your intentions can’t be hidden. Sales intentions have damaged the relationship between salespeople and consumers. This is why consumers no longer want to engage, share and deal with salespeople. This relationship must be healed to turn the economy around and begin to increase sales and grow business.

Let me make a confession, I am a recovering traditional sales trainer.  I have been clean and without sales intentions for 18 years. When you accept that people don’t want to be sold, they want help, they want to be served and they want to do business with people they believe care about them, then you can confess your sales intentions and begin to recover from the damage of traditional selling.

To increase sales and grow a business, you need to go back to the intentions of small business owners in small towns, who knew a customer was worth more than a sale. They knew that when people were treated properly they would buy more than you could sell them, buy again and refer them to others. Treating people properly meant serving them and putting their interests before your own. They knew that customers were the lifeblood of their business. They knew this was how to grow a business and build a brand name (reputation) even if they couldn’t explain it in a boardroom.

Guess what? When your intentions are to serve, help and do what’s best for the people you are trying to sell, they buy more so sales increase immediately. Let me say that differently, “If you want to increase sales…stop selling!” You will also experience repeat, referral and customer loyalty as a by-product of these new intentions.

To make a customer you have to focus on the ownership experience of the person you are selling and not the transaction.

When you make a customer you focus on the person you are selling to and their ownership experience, not the buying experience. You begin to listen to the people you are trying to serve, become present in the conversation, exchange information and real dialogue takes place.  This is when a relationship is built and customers are made.

Most people know business is about relationships but this is in conflict with the intention to sell which sabotages the relationships. So, traditional selling, sales management and sales training will have to be overthrown if you want to start to heal the relationship between consumers and salespeople, increase sales and start to experience growth in your economy.

Today’s economy gives you pause and the time to change your intentions. Social media plays right into this new era of business.

In looking at social media let’s first define that the internet is a “place” more than it is as “media”. I have been speaking and writing about this since 1992. If you treat the internet as a media you’ll talk at people and miss the value of the internet and social media.  You’ll probably try to offer people online deals and use the internet as you do other media. When businesses advertise and sell traditionally using the internet and social media they miss the opportunities social media provides to interact with people, learn about them and build relationships that will result in making customers who will increase your sales, growth and profits.

When you acknowledge that the internet and social media sites are places, then you’ll realize you need to spend time online, network, engage, communicate, exchange ideas and have meaningful dialogue with people online.

To date, Wikipedia lists 194 social networks and over 70 million blogs. Some of the most popular places online, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, consider themselves social networks…not social media. The effective use of social networks comes back to your intentions. Your online intentions are reveled just as easily as your face-to face intentions. If you are online to help, serve and do what’s best for the people you network with you, will see the benefits of your time and social networks.

With 100’s of millions of people spending their time in social networks, you must spend your time in these places to meet, engage, exchange ideas and learn what people are talking about and what they want.  Think of social networks as new locations for your business. Locations you’ll need to staff, have hours for, just like your other business locations.

Companies are using social networks to reach out to people, and they should.  However, the best use of social networks by companies will come from their people using them to communicate and build relationships.  These relationships will extend and build the companies brand and make customers that will increase sales.

People want to do business with people they trust, people they like and people who are willing to help them first in order to earn their business.  Salespeople need to show up, be present and engaged if they want to benefit by using social networks. Your social network campaign and strategy should be to have conversations, share, gather information and build relationships.  Check your sales, marketing and advertising campaigns. Are they trying to sell or are they looking to engage, communicate and serve people to make customers?

You might think making customers is just semantics but it is a core value change.  An intentions change so powerful it will unleash your ability to serve others and reap the benefits both face-to-face and on social network sites.

When your business, marketing and salespeople change their intentions, then you will begin to heal the relationship with consumers and experience business growth in this ‘new economy’ so ‘your economy’ will recover.

By Mike Moore http://dld.bz/XePf

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