Like the cab driver, you’ve got to have a real-time knowledge of the “territory” to make your way through the bureaucracy of people and departments at target businesses. Like the ball player, you need panoramic awareness and agility to respond quickly in constantly changing situations. And like the hotel concierge, you’re always ready — with empathetic understanding — to provide clients and prospects with the resources they need, including assurance, respect, attention, and prompt action.
In the world of sales these skills add up to situational fluency — the capacity to skillfully manage the twists and unexpected detours you’re bound to encounter in the process of selling.
To be a master of situational fluency you need to develop deep product knowledge, high-level communication and selling skills, and be comfortable working with a broad range of people and organizations. You have to wear a bunch of different hats:
- You’re a Public Relations Representative, communicating genuinely positive impressions of yourself and your agency. From the start, you want people to know why they should even listen to you; further along, why they should care about your solutions; and ultimately, why they should continually value your business relationship.
- You’re a Scout, maintaining a constantly informed eye on your quarry. Before you even call to secure an appointment you’re doing advance research work to determine if a potential buyer is a good match — exploring their website, LinkedIn contacts, trade publications and other sources to learn about the people, values, operations, and organizational structure of your target business.
- You’re an Expert Communicator, engaging with people to gain further insight into their business operation, values, and needs. Like Henry Fonda’s character in the classic jury film, 12 Angry Men, you have the social sensitivity to get on each person’s wavelength, and the skill to get them to recognize the value you can deliver.
- You’re a Networker and Coalition Builder, befriending the company “gatekeepers” and finding allies inside their organization who can help you navigate the corporate hierarchy and support your objectives.
- You’re a Business Analyst. You see how the things you offer – risk management, insurance coverage, Employee Benefits, and HR support – are essential in addressing each prospect’s critical business issues.
- You’re a Problem Solver. You know your products and capabilities extremely well. And you can expertly leverage your experience and skills to put together the best solution for each prospect.
- You’re a Campaigner and you know how and when to provide prospects with evidence – references, testimonials, examples, case studies, etc. – that supports you and your brand and builds trust and assurance you can deliver the best solutions for their needs.
- You’re a Psychologist, insightfully understanding the motives and intentions that underlie the prospects’ words.
- You’re a Skeptic, privately questioning the sincerity of people’s responses and probing (tactfully, of course) to uncover the true meaning behind what they tell you.
How do you see your skill set in terms of these abilities? If your self-assessment in any of these areas is “needs improvement,” there are plenty of ways to increase those efficiencies. The first step, though, is recognizing where to focus.