Wipe Out Your Selfish Interests to Sell Government
Minimize selfish behavior! Yep, you’re still in the right place. This is not a blog on self-help, raising your children, or training your dogs. We're still talking about building relationships so you can build or accelerate your government sales pipeline and win government contracts. Today's strategy: minimize perceived selfish behavior…umm, yours not theirs.
We all understand relationships, even very intimate ones, have some “selfish” dimension. The buyer-seller relationship is certainly no exception. That’s alright to a degree; prospects aren’t really looking for a new best friend. They realize you’re getting paid to be nice to them.
However, even in the buyer-seller scenario where a certain degree of tolerance towards self-centered thinking exists, a line can be crossed where the prospect believes a salesperson’s only REAL interest is himself. Think that will work building government pipelines? Think again. If a government buyer even slightly thinks the salesperson is willing to do or say anything in order to close a deal, you’ve got a recipe for relationship disaster and no government contract, even if you build the best case in a government RFP.
Each of us, at some time or another, has likely encountered an obnoxious salesperson who succeeded in pushing a product or service on us that didn’t really meet our needs. We’ve probably all experienced the feeling of being duped by some idiot who made unrealistic promises to meet his sales quota for the day. Few things anger us more than an experience like this. It leaves us feeling betrayed, stupid and even guilty for not seeing through the charade. Psychologically, these are some pretty strong negative emotions we’d prefer to avoid. So, like pulling our hand away from a hot stove once burned, prospects and partners withdraw themselves from a relationship at the first hint that a salesperson is being contriving and manipulative.
People who work in government are particularly sensitive to the “in it for me” salesperson. We believe that most government employees, particularly those in a position to make buying decisions, consider themselves on a mission. They believe they are doing more than making a living. They are doing their duty… when they could be in the private sector making more money, working shorter hours, and dealing with fewer politicians. (Generally speaking, they’re right.) So, if they’re doing their duty, they expect people they buy from to do theirs. (Right again!)
Build a relationship without being obvious. Our goal in developing deeper relationship commitment is to minimize any chance the prospect will feel our motives are strictly selfish. How do we do this? It’s simple. Look for ways to help prospects achieve their goals…with no expectation for an immediate payback.
Some of you might suggest these offers to “help” are just thinly disguised gimmicks to try and ingratiate oneself to a prospect. You curmudgeons might say prospects will see through these attempts and perceive this to be yet another method for manipulation—ultimately turning off the prospect. Our best response to this is, “You might be right.” It all depends on your state of mind and heart when seeking to help. We’re not saying that all selfish intentions can or should be completely erased from the equation. But we believe most people can sense when motives are reasonably pure and when they are tainted with false sincerity.
We think there are times when salespeople should simply “do something good” to make a situation or person better. Certain jaded prospects may view your actions with skepticism. That’s OK. Others will conclude your efforts are genuine and you’re actually a decent human being. They may not buy from you immediately, but you’ve planted a relationship seed and you’ve made the world a little better.
A genuine desire to help others achieve their goals without the promise of immediate personal payback will, no doubt, help build relationship commitment and trust. Ultimately, good sales karma will follow you down the road.
The long sales cycles typical in most government selling situations actually work to our advantage here. Unlike some other situations, government salespeople do not have to build rapport, establish trust and close a sale within a sixty-minute window. You may have months—even years—to create deeper connections. Don’t waste it.
You can scurry about frantically responding to government RFPs you had no influence in…or you can work a real relationship development plan using the insights we’ve discussed, benefiting from a deeper personal connections and true consultative perspective. We choose relationships over government RFPs to drive success every time.