As the leader of the sales and marketing team for a medical device services company, I am often asked if there are selling rules I follow. This question is tricky to answer because there is the ambiguity inherent in selling and marketing. There is no silver-bullet formula that works every time. Do you get questions like this in your life, too?
What I do is pay attention to areas that interest me, find people that appear to be passionate about a hobby or business, and ask myself if what they are doing may apply as selling rules? This can be a lot of fun, especially if you actually ask people why they do what they do?
I like talking to people. And in many instances, I’ve embarrassed my wife and kids by stopping to ask a random person on the street with a nice flower stand or food truck how they are so successful. I’ve had some wonderful conversations and talked to some unique individuals. In fact, I think people enjoy telling their stories!
So what’s all of this got to do with selling rules? Well, read on and you’ll find out.
Cooking Rules and Selling Rules Mashed Up
My wife Jean and I are hobby chefs and we subscribe to Fine Cooking Magazine. While flipping through this month’s issue I came across the article in the picture above. As I read through it, I was struck by the similarities of the process of being a good cook and a successful sales professional.
Kathy Kingsley wrote a nice article and these are the 5 rules every cook should know translated into the 5 selling rules every sales professional should know.
1. Start with the best ingredients.
With cooking, this is pretty simple. Buy fresh, local, and pay attention to prices. Lowest is not always best and neither is the most expensive.
As a selling rule, this is about knowing your market, your product, or service, and how it adds value to your targeted prospect. What you sell becomes a good ingredient in a solution stew your prospect is cooking if you spend your time doing the right things.
2. Read the entire recipe before you begin.
Have you ever started a recipe thinking you have everything you need only to wind up having to “fudge” with a different ingredient? I sure have and it’s not fun. If the dish turns out bad, how can I say it’s a bad recipe because I didn’t follow it?
This selling rule supports the first one because if you have the good ingredients mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear understanding of the process necessary to land that big win.
If you find out you’re missing something later on, sometimes it’s too late and the improvising you do ruins your sales souffle’.
3. Prep ingredients ahead of time.
My mom is an excellent cook. She does what I call “putzy” dishes really well because she has patience, likes the process, and follows the recipe. I remember the little piles of chopped onions, spices segmented out on a cutting board, water boiling, the smell of melted butter, and sizzle of frying bacon that always resulted in a culinary experience right in our own home.
Growing up in a middle-class family, we ate like kings because both my mom and dad loved to cook. I’m grateful for that.
One of the first selling rules I learned was about pre-call planning? I see a lot of sales professionals skip this step because they prefer to “wing it.” It rarely ends well.
I’m guilty of wanting to jump-right-into-it myself sometimes, too. It’s way easier! What’s true, though, is I know if I plan my work and work my plan, success follows. Maybe not exactly what I expected, but generally, there’s progress.
4. Invest in a good chef’s knife.
In my Product Manager days, I worked on the surgical instrument businesses for Storz Instrument Company (Bausch and Lomb) and XOMED Surgical (Medtronic). During that time, I traveled often to southern Germany where the highest quality surgical instruments are made, and had the opportunity to learn about instrument manufacturing and what leads to quality.
As a hobby chef, we are fans of Wusthof classic knives and own a wide selection of them. We have many sizes, shapes, and handle styles of chef’s knives. I do, however, use the classic 8-inch knife most often.
We’ve had cheap knives and they’re never the same. You get what you pay for.
Today, the CRM system is the chef’s knife in selling and marketing.
Like with chef’s knives, you get what you pay for here, too.
I think also important, like a good chef’s knife, is building your own platform.
I believe CRM software is the most important tool and a selling rule today because of what it can do for the productivity of the organization as a whole. CRM used to be the “digital Rolodex for sales.” Or, “Creating Reports for Management.”
Those days are gone. At least, at our company, Sightpath Medical, and many others. We use Salesforce.com and it the central platform where we communicate, store data, and drive many aspects of our business forward.
In fact, we’re believer’s and there’s still a long way for us to go. We have data silos outside of the system and haven’t scratched the surface of artificial intelligence capabilities – but we’re working on it every day.
What’s also true, is we invest in this software and we see returns that are easy to quantify and many that are not measured in dollars and cents. Things like collaboration and communication.
A quick story about a smart friend on Facebook
Not long ago, a friend of mine on Facebook asked if anyone had any recommendations on CRM systems. I commented on my experience with Salesforce.com and his response was interesting.
My friend came back with a comment about how big, bloated and expensive Salesforce is and that he had built an e-commerce platform from open source software and run millions of dollars across it. Ok, so?
Evidently, he is looking for a similar situation with a CRM platform but his last comment was the most interesting to me. He closed with, “I guess it really doesn’t matter if no one uses the software.” Huh?
What he’s missing, is that’s what I love about Salesforce and so does everyone on our team. It’s easy to use and accessible on all devices. As a result, we put data in and it gets better with every interaction.
My developer pal is right about one thing, it is expensive. But the way to figure it, is if it helps us to close a couple of extra deals a year, it’s well worth the price.
Just like a good chef’s knife that helps you slice the onion paper thin like the recipe specifies, cube the chicken without tearing the meat and produce a dish that amazes your friends and family!
Building your own platform is just as important as the CRM software.
What I mean by this is your ability to communicate your ideas, thoughts, opinions, and messages to the people you want to help is important. You do this by doing your own blog, being active on LinkedIn, using your company’s marketing tools to offer value with content, and looking for unique ways to connect with your clients, build trust and offer value.
5. Keep on cooking.
As a cooking rule and selling rule analogy, this one is so easy that not much more needs to be said. Repetition is the mother of skill as long as you learn from your mistakes and make adjustments.
After all, doing the same thing over and over again is the definition of…well, you know what they say about that…
Putting the selling rules into action
All of the rules above are in your power to manifest change in your territory, medical practice, or small business today. None of them are hard and yet they’re not easy, either. That is the selling paradox.
Will you take action? If you like stories like this one about cooking and selling, leave a comment, and tell us about what you learn from your favorite hobby and how it helps you get better at your work. Or fill in the box in the left margin and get on the list to receive notices of when new stories are published, free content, and hear about new teaching courses I’m putting together.
Thanks a lot for stopping by my little corner of the internet and reading my work. I’m grateful for the gift of your time and appreciate you a lot.