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Competitive culture and the role of commitment in sales

Just about everyone has some level of competitive spirit.

Winning matters to us: we like the recognition and the satisfaction. But that’s not enough in a sales organization.

Businesses that are dependent on direct customer contact need more from salespeople than the satisfaction of winning individually. They need a commitment to the success of the business as a whole.

Commitment is more than just a stated intention to do something, especially when it comes to sales. It requires understanding and taking ownership of the organization’s goals, objectives and expectations.

It means the salesperson is his or her own biggest competitor, constantly striving to improve results. It requires developing a plan of action to steadily get better over time. It requires being able to share the vision and commitment of the company with skill and competence.

Commitment – both to and from the customer – has become so important because direct sales is significantly more challenging than ever before. Nearly instant consumer access to product specifications and pricing has lessened the need for salespeople to provide detailed information to potential buyers, many of whom are well into the buying process by the time they contact a retailer.

Better informed buyers expect salespeople to help them solve problems and businesses need salespeople to provide value to customers. This new relationship means sales professionals must take responsibility for building connections in order to produce results.

The days of manipulating customers into buying something they may neither need nor want are well behind us.

The salesperson’s role is to secure a commitment from the customer by becoming a problem solver. The customer will make the commitment only when he or she sees value in the solution the salesperson provides.

The salesperson:

1. Listens

2. Makes a commitment

3. Requests and secures a commitment from the customer

4. Achieves with the customer

5. Declares completion and/or satisfaction.

In most cases, potential buyers call or show up at the store with a commitment to do something. They are already taking action to resolve their issue or challenge.

The challenge for the salesperson is to gain a commitment from the customer. Only when buyer and seller exchange commitments does commerce occur.

Gaining a commitment from the customer may mean that the sales professional has acquired a number of smaller promises from the customer along the way.

These are an indicator that the customer is interested in the solution the salesperson is offering and is headed in the direction of making a full commitment.

Owners and senior managers will probably need to coach and train salespeople to operate in this new manner. It won’t come naturally to everyone and the business has too much at stake to forego any kind of instruction.

Proper training can help strengthen the company’s competitive culture.

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Dan Molloy

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