Jill Rowley is a superhero. She doesn’t wear a mask or cape but she does capture bad guys. Who are these 'bad guys', you wonder? They’re the unquestioned and accepted things we’ve come to accept from sales people.
She’s got amazing spidey senses for doing right by her customers. And because of this, she’s rattling our cages to wake us up. There’s an amazing opportunity ahead for sales professionals, she loves to assure me.
She refuses to call potential buyers prospects (go ahead, I dare you to try). She calls them future advocates instead. What a fascinating shift for business people and sales professionals especially. This may seem “gimmicky” to you and maybe even contrived. If that’s the case, then you haven’t accepted the new reality: customers are back in the driver’s seat.
Although you’ve known that you were never the only ticket in town, this reality is now extremely amplified. Social media has made it far too easy for future advocates to drop you in a second (insert snapping sound here).
What’s the Problem with Prospects
The problem with prospects isn’t them, it’s us. It’s that we’ve got them so generically labeled. If we view potential buyers as prospects, we make them look, sound and feel like a transaction. When is the last time you felt good when someone thought of you as a transaction? Yet, as sales professionals, we use this term effortlessly. It’s ubiquitous in our daily sales vocabulary (guilty as charged!)
Future Advocates Should Be Our Goal
Our goal shouldn’t be to stack our pipeline with prospects, but to fill it with future advocates instead. Potential buyers become future advocates with lots of nurturing. If you’re not willing to help these buyers in a transparent and honest way, they’ll be able to see right through you. Remember, you’re not the only ticket in town.
You need only a very select few of these advocates to help build your brand and grow your business. These should be the people who follow every word you say, listen earnestly to every message you write them, give you their utmost attention when you give professional advice, and (as a by-product) will be proud to refer you to friends, family, colleagues, peers and even random strangers on the subway ride home.
Terrified or Excited?
Can you spot the opportunities and risks with this? Building a mindset of creating future advocates creates terrifying yet exciting implications.
One that sticks out for me the most is you can pick your customers. That’s right. Not every customer will be a right fit for you or your company. Be smart and future-thinking if you face this; refer them to another vendor instead. This honesty will only help to boost your personal stock.
Does this excite you or terrify you? Are you still thinking about transactions/orders and quotas? Or, are you thinking about what it means to really create raving fanatics!
The Bottom Line
There’s a radical mind shift that’s required here. Your ability to treat buyers as people and not as transactions is at the core of it. Do unto others what you’d want done to you.
What would you rather build? A series of transactions that feed you today or advocate relationships that feed you for a lifetime? The choice seems obvious, but it takes work to achieve the latter.
Confused on where to start building future advocates? I’ve got some ideas that can give you a push-start. Schedule some time with me below and we’ll chat.