“If you can work a complete, vertical sales model, your organization will be better,” says Brett Hunsaker, senior managing director at CB Richard Ellis. “In the past five years alone, the Internet has created some mind-boggling lessons on how to sell. New opportunities present themselves every day.”
Not only that, but the best new sales ideas present themselves at your very own doorstep on a regular basis. How? In the person of the vendor or supplier who wants your company’s business.
The key, Hunsaker says, is to think sales, to keep your eyes and ears open, and to learn from others. Smart Business asked him to elaborate.
How might corporate officers and directors improve their approach to sales?
Most CEOs and CFOs that I know are pretty smart. They buy into sales. They have to, because the company’s No. 1 purpose is to sell. Yet some C-level people resist entertaining sales calls like they’re the plague. They continually use the word ‘no’ or have a gatekeeper to keep sales people away. Instead of perceiving the sales person as someone they can learn from, they perceive the sales person as a lower-level person.
Donald Trump is a C-level person who sells all the time. No CEO will open the door eight hours a day for sales people, but they can create mechanisms and programs to see what people are selling to their company and how those people are selling. The smart CEO can use that foundation to overlay a system-wide modification for increasing sales.
Is networking through your vendors/suppliers a viable way to expand business?
Vendors/suppliers selling to your firm can be used by evaluating what techniques they’re using to sell or market their firms. They may also have key contacts that can help you network for new business.
All your sales people need to expand their networking relationships. The more contacts they have, the more new targets they will have. They can add to their list by:
- Knowing what the competition is doing
- Meeting more decision makers
- Creating an individual matrix of contacts
- Expanding direct branding with buzz via your vendors/suppliers
How can you take full advantage of the expertise of your vendors/suppliers without seeming like you’re taking advantage of them?
Observe their best practices: best presentations, best proposals, best marketing tools. And don’t worry that they might think you’re taking advantage of them, because you’re not. If you’re buying from them, then you’re not taking advantage of them.
Learn from them. Take their calls and don’t avoid them. Listen and learn from what they do, and give them credit for good efforts. Then reward good vendors/suppliers with some business.
Give me an example of this concept working to the advantage of both a company and its client/customer.
Have good vendors/suppliers come into your office and host a ‘lunch-and-learn’ for your sales force. We have done this with several vendors/suppliers, and in turn have shown them what we do and how to sell in the commercial real estate sector.
For clients that do not have a big sales force (like law firms), we present key sales skills to their partners and associates. We are happy to meet with and give them our expertise in relationship building, branding, marketing and direct sales with real-life examples of what to do. Our goal is to have them make more money so they will grow and need more office space. Then we will be in the driver’s seat for that opportunity.
Does that philosophy of learning from your clients filter through an organization?
Yes. It can start at the top and infiltrate all the way down to the guy sweeping the floors. And by the way the uncle of the guy sweeping the floors might be a potential client. So don’t leave anyone out of the loop.
Whether it’s pencils or multimillion-dollar office buildings, it’s the same principle: whatever works best is best. You just have to adapt it to your industry. And networking makes it all work.
Are there any scenarios where you would not want to try this approach?
No. Never. Every firm sells and wants to know how to sell better. So if they listen to the best, it will be a win-win situation for both companies.
BRETT HUNSAKER is senior managing director at CB Richard Ellis. Reach him at (404) 923-1350 or email@example.com.