- The most important ‘winning sales behaviour’ to activate - 11 February 2022
- The question asked most often by sales people - 4 November 2021
- How to muscle in, and boot the competition out - 9 July 2020
Get proactive. Right now.
I know you’re busy. You’re an engineer who followed a certain path in life. You’re technical, you like to think, plan, solve, and use your strengths. But…
…you’re also here because you know your skillset might no longer be enough for what’s ahead. You want different results. You’ve got the rest of your career path ahead, and what got you to here is unlikely to get you to ‘there’ – wherever you hope that might be. As the world changes, and you get a little older, your circumstances demand something different from you.
You’re here because you want to go beyond the creation of engineering solutions, and actually be able to plug those in to the right end-users. Because that’s where real value is created. If a tree falls in an empty woods, does it make a sound? If an engineering solution doesn’t get bought and used, is it really a solution?
You’re here because you want to be able to engage customers well, comfortably and respectfully enough to help them make buying decisions. And preferably to guide them to buy your solutions, providing that they’re right for your customers. You’d like that to become easier, more effective, and maybe one day almost fairly effortless. I can guarantee you have the ability to get to that level, if you want it enough. But you must square up to some facts first…
The first is that if you don’t grow in your work, then you’re probably declining. You don’t stay still, because the world shifts around you. If you think you’ll just remain ‘as is’ as an engineer (“I’ve done alright so far, I’m sure the world of employment will keep me bouyant until I retire”) then reality is likely to teach you a painful lesson, possibly sooner than you think. Something you could have prevented.
Our value in the marketplace, or ’employment value’ is continuously tested, and rewarded proportionally. If you can provide just a bit more value to those who pay you than your competitor does, you take the prize. They vote for you. With payment, respect, promotion, opportunity, whatever. And it’s totally within your control to determine that outcome.
Grow or decline?
So, grow. Don’t decline. The world needs engineers who can also connect their ideas and solutions to the right people and create ‘buy-in’ to enable a solution. You can choose the red growth pill, or the blue decline pill. And failure to choose means actually choosing the blue decline pill!
Get proactive by flicking the switch
The second part of our reality check is that you’re going to need to switch on some new lights. Some new behaviours that will take you to where you need to be.
And it’s this that we must look at right now. Because the first light you really need to switch on (right now, because it’s in front of you) is the ‘get proactive’ light. It’s there to be switched on. Staring at you.
You’ll probably agree that most engineers are more likely to be reactive types than naturally proactive. Certainly in the area of engaging customers and holding conversations to help buyers buy. But – and this is something I’m seeing increasingly with my clients – operate reactively for too long as an engineer, and you’ll have a much bigger, nastier problem to react to later. Sooner or later, people will stop handing opportunities (or customers) to you. Because someone out there, your competitor, is nudging their value ahead of yours, and customers and employers are noticing. (Of course, you could choose to be the person who gets the edge over your competition.)
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”Warren Buffet
Being proactive is vital. You know about cause and effect. You must apply a force. And topple the first domino.
And if that’s a struggle, then the next step is to learn how to reduce that struggle. There are often easier ways to do things, which are learnable.
Sales are directly proportional to sales activity
I learned way back, and proved alongside my clients, that sales success is directly proportional to your level of sales activity, input or action. It’s that simple. And you switch the sales activity on by being proactive about it. (Obviously increasing activity is one thing, but we also need to refine effectiveness and efficiency, and both these are learnable too.)
Proactivity is the answer
“Take charge, then do the right thing”.General Norman Schwarzkopf
The above is possibly my favourite ‘line of code’ I frequently run through my mind. It’s empowering, it’s sensible, it’s proactive, and it’s rewarding. You literally notice the rewards come in when you stick to you it. It solves an awful lot of problems for me in my own life, and especially as an engineer selling.
I suggest carving it deep into your mind. Writing it down, frequently is one way. Saying it to others is another.
The take charge part is pure mindset. It’s the main switch. You simply flick it on when you consciously decide to ‘take charge’ of the situation or position you’re in. It should feel good. I literally roll my sleeves up sometimes and realise that that’s one switch for ‘taking charge’ for me.
The ‘do the right thing’ bit might be a little more challenging as we can’t be 100% sure on what the right thing is, in that moment.
But we can LEARN what it’s more or most likely to be. That’s where my own solutions and services help my clients. I share, in person, and through my e-learning platform “Engineers Can Sell” what’s been proven to work for most engineers. And I keep it all up to date, with what’s currently working. The answers are in there. (And if ever they’re not, as part of my service, I invite you to come to me and ask for them!)
There’s no silver bullet for us when selling. But we can accept that everything is probabilistic. We can learn from others who have walked the path before us. And do what increases our chances. Rather than learning the hard way – at the school of hard knocks – which comes at a huge price (and exhausted and frustrated engineers and leadership who keep banging their heads against the walls!) in the area of sales.
OK. You have a plan now.
You know you need to become more proactive. You must ‘take charge’ (decide to do that right now) then ‘do the right thing’ which you’ll have to learn what that is in the moment.
And if you’re still struggling to flip that proactive switch because you insist you’re a reactive person then consider that you can still be the same reactive person. Just one who’s going to act proactive whilst the situation demands it. That’s what professionals do.
- What one thing do you think you need to attend to next – and actually DO – to make most impact on your sales? (Always good to start with doing what you know to do!)
- Not sure? Then what you need to DO is to learn what that next most impactful thing is. My e-learning platform here provides an efficient way to do that.
- Schedule when you’ll do it. And when the reminder goes off, take charge and do the right thing!
- If you’re struggling to make this happen, you could always give me a shout.
- Otherwise, you’re done for now! Great work.