When it comes to this, the closest and most effective analogy to use is that of our Olympians completing the swimming medley.
The format of this exciting, challenging, and mixed ability race, involves the swimmer, (or swimmers) completing lengths of the pool as quickly as possible, but whilst demonstrating different stroke techniques effectively.
In a sales and marketing arena, an effective client engagement often involves changing approaches to meet the needs of that moment in time, but whilst maintaining the context and momentum.
As an effective marketer / salesperson it’s important to practice each discipline (aka stroke), so that you are effective across the board. Where we see individuals producing less than spectacular results, but on the surface appearing to have the requisite skillset to be successful, (i.e. they are making some sales but not enough), it is quite likely that one element of their ‘medley’ skills is lacking.
From a management perspective, it’s important to know what the different swimming strokes might represent and a simple (but not exclusive list might go as follows):
Butterfly: Initial client engagement through marketing activity and first in person contact. Building rapport and identifying the primary resolution sought by the prospect. It takes a fair amount of energy, but is worth it as nothing else can happen if a starting relationship isn’t in place.
Backstroke: Taking the time to reflect on what the prospect has said they wish to achieve, and the offerings you can provide. Asking exploratory questions in a way that encourages the prospect to consider what reaching a solution would really mean to them, and developing a real WANT within them to do that.
Breaststroke: The reflection of the main hot button issues, together with a well-crafted ‘pitch’ that delivers concise but detailed matching of need with outcome. Pre-handling obvious objection points before they get raised and then driving towards a closing statement. Looks peaceful on the surface, but involves a good synchronising of the information gained so far with the knowledge of the salesperson on the company, product, service and themselves.
Freestyle: The handling of any objections that are raised, and managing them well. Following a process to overcome the hurdles and enable both the salesperson and the customer to confidently reach out for the finishing point (agreement made / sale complete).
By knowing the style, and understanding that the order of completion matters, you’ll be able to develop the skills of yourself and the team, as well as allocate your most skilled team members at appropriate times during any sequential or staged sales approach.
Happy gold medal hunting!