Code words and…Steak and sizzle…

Code words and…Collaborative selling

Team selling is a great way to open that tough new account (or get past those cold call fears), but there’s some important pre-call coordination that commands our attention if that call we’re about to make will be as good as possible.


First, let’s recognize that when we make that call alone the only errant thoughts we need to worry about are our own. But with that partner in tow we have both the benefit of that second set of eyes and ears and the danger of the call going unexpectantly off the rails.


That’s why two things need to be accomplished before we open the car doors. Number one, we need to discuss the situation as we understand it so that our partner has the benefit of our existing intelligence. Things like (but certainly not limited to): His personality … how long the current supplier had the business, is the buyer the owner and the chef … is he fixated on any special idea/need … is he enamored with a particular way to control costs … does he have a thing for kitchen cleanliness? Those kinds of facts (and others) will arm your sales call partner to really contribute and give you both the best chance of getting the most bang for the buck.


Finally, you need to establish a code phrase that either of you can use to alert the other that he needs to stop talking because he’s about to “step in it”, or simply because you realize that the path he’s taken will lead to no good end. It can be as simple and unobtrusive as, “Jim, I have an idea”. But you both need to agree that once that phrase is uttered the other speaker will stop midsentence!


Taken together these two thoughts may not insure total success but ignore them completely and there’s a good chance that that joint call won’t be nearly as effective as you’d hoped.


Steak and sizzle …Features and benefits


Anyone who’s ever studied sales has heard the adage: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak”. That’s because the mental image of that still sizzling, moist steak is lot more enticing than any description of the meat itself.


We inherently we know that benefits are paramount in our presentations and always trump features. Nonetheless, there is the tendency for us to focus on the later and give benefits a short shift. And when we do that, we sell ourselves short. Perhaps that’s a natural outgrowth of our having so much knowledge of the systems and products that we sell and our natural bent toward things technical. But from the perspective of the buyer … who knows his or her business – but pretty much nada about chemicals and dispensers, that’s far for the case.


To overcome that “personal flaw” we have to reorient our perspective to the buyer’s point of view. Seeing that idea we’re pitching from that angle might just give us a leg up on presenting it in a way that naturally leads to focusing on benefits versus features. That doesn’t mean ignoring features, but it does mean never mentioning them without explaining how they deliver a benefit.


That feature of a well marbled steak delivers the benefit of a “moist, tender, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth taste experience” … Bet you can almost mentally taste it right now.