Kieran Flanagan

At just 20, Kieran Flanagan was one of the youngest Creative Directors to lead a multi award winning advertising agency. One of the only female Creative Directors in the world of MadMen, Kieran’s impressive career now sees her as the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at research, training and innovation think tank, The Impossible Institute, teaching and lecturing at The Miami Ad School and speaking to audiences around the globe. It would be fair to say she’s come across her fair share of sales people in her time, and here she shares with us her top selling tips...

...and it's not all about you! 

It's ALWAYS Personal

It is ALWAYS Personal

One of the cardinal rules of dating is don’t talk incessantly about yourself. ‘Let me tell why you should like me’, ‘Let me tell you how wonderful I am’. It’s a dating no no. It’s annoying right? It is off putting. You walk away, phone your friends and say ‘what an egomaniac’. Yet too often that’s exactly how bad sales people behave.

While not true of all salespeople, I have met some masterful ones in my time, there is a reason they often get portrayed as the too much aftershave wearing, slicked hair, shiny shirt and suit wearing sleazy guy at the bar. Because most of the time all they are interested in is closing the deal, rolling over and getting some sleep! You know you’re going to wake up and they’ll be gone without even a thankyou note. Not the best way to begin a relationship. Which is exactly what selling is today. A relationship between people. It is never just business, it is always personal.

Today, this is truer than ever before because selling has changed. With greater choice than ever before, a global one in most cases, people are looking for more. We are all like the hottest girl in school and we expect to be wooed. Companies and sales people need to love us, let us talk about our feelings and be genuinely interested. We know the difference. If you see customers as merely a dollar sign you wont keep them very long because someone else sees them as someone worth loving.

The best sellers aren’t trying to sell, they are trying to build on the relationship. To be there when they are needed. There is a difference. Look at the legendary stories of Zappos. An online company where they so believe in ‘making people happy’ that they reward their phone staff for the longest time on a call. The record is ten hours and twenty nine minutes, a call spent getting know the person on the other end of the line. The same company sent one of their own people to a rival shoe store to snap up the last of a pair of shoes for one of their customers, sent flowers to a woman who went through six pairs of shoes trying to find ones that fit because her feet were hurt by medical treatments and overnighted a pair to shoes to a man who got to his wedding shoeless (and then did not charge him for the shoes, they became a wedding gift).

Or Morton’s whose customer tweeted form a flight how much they would love a Morton’s steak when they landed at Newark, only to be surprised by a gent in a tuxedo with a steak and cutlery when they did. Talk about building relationships.

The thing is I want to shop at Zappos, I want to experience their service for myself and I don’t even live in the US. I want to try a Morton’s steak and I don’t even eat them. I live on the other side of the world and I am jealous. That is the extraordinary power of starting relationships not selling something. Relationships get gossiped about, talked about and shared.

If you are in sales what are the legendary stories people are sharing about you? What kind of reputation do you have? Would people be jealous and want to be in a relationship with you too? If not, then ask yourself what are you going to do to go above and beyond and deliver remarkable customer service. How are you going to be the best relationship they every had?

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