Written by Sean McPheat |
Today, I nearly had an accident in my car.
Driving on the motorway at around 60mph in heavy traffic , I was following the car in front (at a safe distance, of course!) when I noticed the cars two or three ahead of the car in front put their brake lights on. One of them began to swerve violently. I immediately anticipated what could be about to happen and I slowed down quickly, keeping an eye on what was going on ahead of me and also noticing what was the reaction of drivers in front.
The car in front of me didn’t anticipate as quickly as I did and was unable to stop in time before hitting the car in front of him. I was able to take evasive action and pulled onto the hard shoulder, missing the now-stationery car in front of me by a couple of feet.
Fortunately, the damage was only to the metal and no-one was hurt. After giving my witness statement, I was able to continue my journey. I breathed a sigh of relief as I thought back on the incident, and I was grateful that I had anticipated what might be happening by looking ahead of the car in front of me. I know that if I had just focused on the car in front of me, instead of looking further forward, I probably couldn’t have reacted in time and would have been part of the accident instead of just missing it.
It got me thinking about our anticipatory thought-patterns in sales. Thinking ahead is necessary for long-term success in sales. Most of the successful salespeople I have worked with over the years have been able to think ahead to what their industry and their customers’ industries future situations are going to be. This allows them to structure their own sales portfolios and design their own development paths to mould into the kind of sales consultant that will help them achieve the best results in the near and medium-term future.
In other words, they know the kind of world their customers are going to be living in, and adapt to that changing world.
So, how can you build the foundations for that future world? How can you anticipate two or three steps ahead of what is happening now and be the valued trusted advisor when you need to be?
Firstly, what are the obstacles your customers will be facing in two or three years’ time? How do you anticipate what challenges they will be facing at that time? How can you help create the foundation for those changes so you are there ready and waiting when they arrive?
You create so much value for your customers when you can answer those questions. So, read the trade magazines that your prospects are reading. Share ideas with thought-leaders so you can build up your knowledge and background support. Follow those thought leaders and build up a reputation for solution-focused ideas with your customer base.
Build a network base that you can share ideas with, a base that will give you confidence your ideas for future business development actually hold water.
Determine what trends are happening in your industry. Be future-oriented so you can anticipate what knowledge and abilities will help your customers design their businesses for the future. Be so valuable to your customers that they wouldn’t even consider going anywhere else.
When was the last time you researched new ideas and technologies in your field, wrote a quick resume about them, put them in a white-paper or newsletter, added your own twist to it and sent it out to potential clients or present customers? This builds credibility in your professionalism and helps people view you as a real support to their business.
Stay informed and constantly update yourself with ideas that will affect the future of your industry. I get up early and scour whatever information I can find that will increase my value to clients. I want to be ahead of the changes that are happening, and the only way I can do that is by being proactive, searching out and anticipating what changes will be happening, driving the changes and being part of the solution, not the problem.
See what you can do to anticipate what is happening in your world. As you’ve heard before…there are three types of people in this world; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what just happened.
I was glad I anticipated ahead this morning. If I hadn’t, I shudder to think what may have happened. Use my experience as an example of how you can anticipate and stay ahead of the game in sales and marketing.
Originally published: 18 July, 2013