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Why Common Sense Isn’t So Common

by David Brock on May 31st, 2022

I’m re-reading a stunning series of posts Charlie Green wrote several years ago. They are more relevant than ever.. They are entitled, “Five Short Phrases To Build Relationships.” I won’t spoil the fun of discovering these brilliant ideas. Make sure you read and leverage them.

What struck me in reading Charlie’s post were they were so simple, so obvious. They were just plain common sense. At the same time, the brilliance of Charlie’s posts is that we fail to leverage these principles too often.

Stated differently, we spend a lot of time looking for short cuts, miracle cures, and tricks, that we forget to exercise common sense.

I see this every day. We tend to over-complicate what we do. We tend to forget the basic principles of selling are the most powerful–and common sense things that we can do.

Instead, we abandon those the fundamentals, looking at what’s fashionable, or the bright shiny object, or the latest technology, or the latest, “1 thing to drive sales success.”

Selling is about common sense. It’s about focus, caring, disciplined execution, creating differentiated value and doing the work. Of course there are technologies and approaches that help improve our efficiency in doing the work, or may improve our effectiveness in engaging customers, but it always comes back to the fundamentals.

The fundamentals aren’t sexy or cool. Sometimes they are boring and tedious. They aren’t magic–and don’t claim to be. But they work—always.

It doesn’t mean we always win, but we win more often than we lose–and often, because our competitors fail to execute the basics. And we also engage the customer in a more meaningful and impactful way.

I suppose it’s human nature to look for short cuts, but too often, this distracts us from the basics and doing what works.

My clients, and even I, are constantly amazed by how quickly we see results when we re-focus on the basics, when we apply common sense.

What are they? Some are:

  1. Know who your customer is and what might drive them to buy. This is intensely focusing on your ICP and within that on customers who have the problems/opportunities that you solve. Don’t waste your time outside this.
  2. Talk to your customers about what they care about, not what you care about. It’s the shortest path to the sale. In reality, you know your interests are aligned because you are focused on customers in your ICP and they have the problems/opportunities you address.
  3. Talk to them as human beings, use common sense, be curious. Charlie’s questions are a great starting point. Demonstrate that you care–and if you don’t, then you have no business calling on them.
  4. Understand their goals, dreams, what they are trying to achieve, what may be keeping them from achieving those things and how it impacts them. Of course, this is pretty basic, it’s all about learning from each other and collaboratively solving problems.
  5. Help them develop a plan to address the issues and solve their problem. Don’t complicate it with buying journey/process, our selling process. It’s really a collaborative project plan. Our customers work on project plans every day (Having said that, our experience with other customers doing this and our selling process enables us to help them develop the project plan.).
  6. Guide them through the process, it will take some twists and turns, they will become distracted, but if you’ve done the previous steps well, you can easily get them to refocus.
  7. Do this in as few meetings/interactions as possible. Designing each meeting to maximize the value the customer gets is one of the secrets to value creation.
  8. Focus on the business value they get, not just your value proposition. Your value proposition is only part of the business value–but it’s about you and not them.
  9. Do the work! Focus on doing the right things with the right people at the right time. Repeat.

All of this is common sense. Sometimes it’s too obvious, the principles are too simple. But it works!

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