Three Proven Principles for Continued Sales Success

Is it possible to summarize the essence of all that has been written and taught about the art and science of value-based selling in complex environments into as few as three key ideas? Ideas that can be readily understood, easily remembered and successfully practiced by most sales reps?

Is It Possible?

The galaxy

The observable universe is about 14 billion light years away. But how far we can see and understand is not limited by space, but time. Beyond 14 billion light years light hasn’t had time to reach us yet (traveling at 186,000 miles per second). So when you consider Isaac Newton defined the complex laws governing all motion throughout the entire universe into three Laws of Motion in his “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” or “Principia,” in 1686, the answer to summarizing art and science of the complex sale into three key ideas …   is probably possible.

Three Principles

Human personality has four functions:  Reason, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition.  It is the the intellect, which seeks to know, or to understand, and to formulate alternatives.  It is the heart, which chooses and decides.  But, these spiritual faculties of the human spirit use the human physical senses as the means to gain the information which enlarge and enhance the four functions which enable human, or thoughtful, actions.  Of the five senses, vision, or the ability to see, may be the most credible, and informative of the senses.  We say “seeing is believing.”  And, if there may be differences of information between what we may hear and what we see, we will usually rely on the credibility of vision over hearing.

Now, with this background, let’s proceed together to the three succinctly stated principles which I believe must be achieved in order to consistently gain sales success in Complex Sales Environments.

Products, and providers, must:

  1. Look Good!
  2. Feel Good!
  3. Be Good!

Those who remember the double-entendre Gillette razor blade campaign theme which promoted the need to Look Sharp!  Feel Sharp!  Be Sharp! will quickly note the similarity with these three principles.

Clearly, the message was for the user to “Look, Feel and Be” so sharp – or “Smart” looking and feeling, that he would be attractive and appealing to others.  Normally, those others would be ladies; hence, an inherent sexual appeal.  But, also the professional man should be considered sharp and smart to his business associates and thereby make a good first impression.

The First Principle – Look Good!

One never gets a second chance to make a good first impression, so how one looks to another is very important.

Over the years we have said, “The closer you look, the better we look.” We believe that our offerings have a lot of depth and power engineered into them.  That’s why we want the prospects to look closely.  But however useful such considered study may be, those who are little interested at the first look will typically not look much further.  That’s why our request to “look closer” may seldom be accepted by those whose initial impressions are not favorable.

A way to express this idea might be to think of this phenomenon as the WOW! NOW! factor.

To help produce the WOW! NOW! factor:  We must look good.  But we must not be narcissistically centered on ourselves or our offerings.  Rather, we must focus on the advantages, benefits and values that will be gained by the other.  And our consideration must be centered on their interests.

The Second Principle – Feel Good!

However impressive and important first impressions may be, we know that these may be based only upon superficial, and maybe even misleading, appeals and attractions.  So, we want to know more about those things we found to be so interesting and initially attractive.

Prospects want to know how well a product or service may meet their particular needs.  Some of the key values that good marketing and sales bring to the evaluation are to help prospects not only better understand the offerings, but even more importantly to help the prospect to better understand and appreciate the value and the usefulness of the offerings to the prospect.

These are some of the reasons why intuitive feel, ease of use, and vivid engaging user interfaces with technology are all so important.  They help the prospect to “feel good” about what they are considering.

The Third Principle – Be Good!

It is not enough to talk a good game.  To be a true champion one must be able to deliver the results, and be good when it counts.  Great champions seem to always be able to raise the level of their game to whatever the challenges may be.  So, to consistently and habitually act well, persons, like organizations, must Be Good – Very Good – at what they do.

To do good one must relentlessly seek to be purposely good – very good, at what one does.  So, the third principle is – Be Good.

All three of these principles may not win you ALL of the sales cycles you’re involved in, but not having them will most definitely make you lose them. Striking the right balance is key, but Gillette’s message – Look Sharp! Feel Sharp! Be Sharp! – shows how all three make a perfect situation.

About the Author

Thomas M. Nies is the founder and CEO of Cincom Systems, Inc. The longest actively serving CEO in the computer industry, Nies was recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 as "the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit of American business." In 1992, British Prime Minister Edward Heath honored Nies for Cincom's role in bringing the software industry to England. In 1995, he was profiled by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the "pioneers of the software industry," alongside other industry giants such as Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Larry Ellison (Oracle). In 2004, Ernst & Young inducted Nies into its Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame. In 2005, along with the CEO of Adobe, Nies won the International Stevie Award for Best Executive in the International Business Awards—"the business world's own Oscars," according to the New York Post. In 2005, Nies also received the University of Cincinnati Lifetime Achievement award and in 2006, was named as one of the Top Ten IT Visionaries by START-IT magazine. In 2008, Tom and Cincom were featured in a Harvard Business School Study. Email Tom Nies:

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