Do you remember how you crossed the street when you were a child? Your parent told you, “Look right and then left. Then you can cross.” That bi-directional focus made it safe for you to cross the street. Selling shouldn’t be dangerous. Bi-directional selling, or selling in two directions, makes your selling more successful.
Look backwards to learn.
I like to say that in sales, you should be making different mistakes. You are not learning anything when you make the same mistakes over and over again.
How do you make sure you make different mistakes? You examine each sales call for what works and what didn’t work. Then you try something different going forward if something didn’t work in the past.
Look backwards to prove what you say.
I’ve been watching the presidential debates. Too many candidates are telling you how gifted and talented they are. Instead, they should be quoting what other people have said about their work.
You should look backwards at your past deliverables and what your customers have said about your products and your work. How much more persuasive could you be when you say, “Company X and their senior VP told me that they were able to reduce their waste by 20% because of my work.” Most salespeople talk about themselves. You should let others speak for you. You’ll find that when you look backwards.
Look forward to anticipate ways to make your customers more successful.
Just looking back isn’t enough. Customers and prospects value your help when you can help them avoid problems. What trends are in their industry that they may be unaware of? Is your company developing particular products that aren’t confidential and a prospect could benefit? You get the credit when you provide useful information that helps a customer or prospect make better decisions.
Trade associations often provide information that you can share. Not all customers are members of the association nor do they have time to read all the information that is available to them. Your sales meeting could be time well spent when you start a conversation of strategies to address the future trends.
Look both ways to add value for your customers and prospects.
Referrals are a proven way to shorten anyone’s sales cycle. A great way to ensure that you keep your business is to find more customers for your existing customers. You might be so busy looking for your own new business that you forget about becoming a source of new business leads for your prospects and customers.
Look forward to think of possible customers for your existing business and new business that you want. Now look back at your own customers to see who you might introduce to these customers.
You’re supposed to look both ways before you cross the street. Now you know to look both ways before you sell.