Are You Interested?

Whether you are a sales manager, business executive or business owner, becoming "interested" is an important component of driving your organization's sales and business development effort.

While great amounts of emphasis are more commonly placed on striving to become "interesting" in our interaction with others, consider the concept of becoming more "interested" and how it influences the various people involved.

As a sales manager, one of our primary responsibilities is to motivate the team. This typically involves helping sales people maintain a positive attitude as well as a belief in their ability to get the job done; it also involves managing processes so people stay focused on the right things, and leading people toward mutual goal achievement.

It is not easy work.

It can become easier, however, when we find ways to consistently exhibit an honest interest in the work being done by our sales team. And please note, this means becoming "interested" not only after the work has been done, but also while the work is being done! An after-the-fact or "rear-view mirror" approach to management can only yield judgment about past performance; but our "interest" while work is in progress enables us to influence results hopefully for the better!

"Interested" people tend to ask questions. So, this genuine interest can best be expressed by asking questions about day-to-day efforts, successes and challenges; we can then analyze the information gathered (by listening carefully to people's answers to our questions) and proactively find ways to become involved. A steady diet of this type of interaction will quickly lead to a better understanding of the team's attitude and aptitude. It will also yield potentially useful information about the marketplace, which can help us in making decisions with respect to pricing, policies, training, hiring and more!

But most of all, if consistently implemented this interactive and collegial management style has a tendency to send a strong implied message a message that says we care! A message that says each team member is important and their work is important. We might be surprised at how much more effectively people perform their jobs when they realize how important their success really is from our perspective.

In addition, the sales team will very likely express OUR interest when they interact with OUR customers and prospects. Sending a message to customers and prospects that says WE care can only generate good will and, hopefully, increased revenue.

As an executive or business owner, becoming more "interested" when interacting with customers and prospects can have the same effect. Consider the fact that studies and surveys, including an extensive buyer's poll done by the AMA, indicate that people make decisions based on their feelings. In other words, according to one marketing expert, "People decide based on their emotions, and then justify it with the facts."

If this viewpoint rings true, then consider how being "interested" in customers and prospects might make them feel and how it might influence their decisions.

Here are a few ideas on becoming both "interested" and, therefore, interesting:

  • Conduct research before calling or meeting with a customer or prospect. In only five-to-ten-minutes it is possible to identify potentially vital information about organizational accomplishments, priorities and potential needs.
  • When creating an agenda, place an equal amount of focus on both questions and speaking points. In the end, the questions will prove to be more important!
  • During discussions with customers or prospects, avoid the tendency to present ideas or solutions too early. If we wait until our questions have been asked and an appropriate situational analysis completed, we'll have a much better chance of "presenting" the right things.
  • Develop a circle of resources and, based on each conversation, be ready to make appropriate referrals should you uncover a problem that one of these providers might solve.
  • Before speaking with customers or prospects, take time to consider likely or desirable next steps that might be consequential to a good exchange of information. Try to end each discussion with a relevant summary and a proactive suggestion or call to action that encompasses the most appropriate next step.